Nursing homes and a union representing nursing home workers said Pennsylvania’s new budget gave them a big and desperately needed financial boost.
This includes a 17.5% increase in the daily payment to people with Medicaid coverage — the first such increase in a decade.
“These historic milestones come at a time when long-term care providers continue to face unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic,” said Garry Pezzano, CEO of LeadingAge PA, which represents 360 nonprofit facilities. .
“The Legislature and Administration have shown tremendous leadership in helping us chart a course toward a return to stability in our continued mission to provide accessible, high-quality care for Pennsylvania’s growing elderly population,” Pezzano said.
The increase in payments does not begin until January 1. However, the budget signed by Governor Tom Wolf on Friday evening contains approximately $131 million in US federal funds to fill the gap.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which represents for-profit facilities, called the budget “a decade-long investment in the making.”
“Pennsylvania seniors and their care providers can breathe a deep sigh of relief today as we deliver a finalized state budget package that will include critical financial assistance for nursing homes, nursing homes personal care and assisted living communities,” CEO Zach Shambaugh said in a statement released before Wolf signed the final budget.
Pennsylvania has approximately 680 qualified nursing homes that care for approximately 110,000 seniors and people with disabilities. About 65% are covered by Medicaid, the state-federal program for low-income people.
Nursing home officials had long said the previous payment of about $200 a day for people covered by Medicaid was about $50 less than actual costs, with Pennsylvania facilities losing about $820 million a year on these residents.
They further said that the situation for nursing homes has deteriorated significantly due to labor shortages which have driven up wages. Combined with inflation and rising food and energy prices, costs rose about 9% in the 12 months to March 2022, they said. At that time, industry leaders predicted that nearly 60% of households would suffer significant financial losses in 2022.
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, which represents employees who provide direct care in nursing homes, said the budget contains “a permanent and recurring increase in funding for nursing homes which, combined with the federal matching, amounts to approximately $600 million a year to help achieve the staffing ratios advanced by Governor Wolf in the updated nursing home regulations.
The SEIU said the budget calls for a high percentage of funds to be spent on bedside care.
The budget contains a $29 million increase for state-run homes for veterans and another $35 million for a loan forgiveness program to attract more nurses, according to the SEIU.
“Today marks a historic moment when workers’ demands have been heard, and we have brought together the Governor’s administration, the nursing home industry and legislators to begin building the reform we need. We need to ensure that all Pennsylvanians can receive safe and reliable care in the setting of their choice,” said Matthew Yarnell, CEO of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.
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