Lawmakers approve broad funding increases for skilled nursing facilities

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Lawmakers in Illinois and Minnesota recently approved sweeping funding increases for skilled nursing facilities in their states.

A Minnesota budget proposal currently at the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee includes $1.3 billion that could help Minnesota nursing homes as well as assisted living communities cope. to critical staff shortages, estimated at 23,000 open care positions.

The proposal would allocate $1 billion to increase wages in long-term care services, personal care and state disability exemption rates. An additional $322 million would be spent on hiring more direct support professionals and health care aides in long-term care facilities, group homes and direct care providers and residence. Under the proposal, nursing homes and “senior care facilities” would receive $358 million, and staffers could get a $2-per-hour raise, according to a Minnesota State Republican Caucus press release. .

“This funding will help ensure that nursing homes, long-term care facilities and group homes have the resources they need to provide the staff needed to care for older adults and Minnesotans with disabilities,” said the Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R).

Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, the affiliate of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, told the The McKnight Business Daily that the organization testified before the committee. The proposal, she added, demonstrates that lawmakers “heard our pleas for help and responded with long-term sustainable investments and structural changes for funding long-term care.”

Kari Thurlow, president and CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota, however, previously said McKnight’s that while the budget goal is “remarkable,” it won’t be enough to fill the 20% statewide vacancies.

“The Senate proposal is an important step forward, but the budget discussions are far from over,” she told the The McKnight Business Daily Friday. “Unfortunately, the House and the Governor have next to nothing in their budgets to permanently raise the salaries of caregivers in our sector. One-off measures will do very little to fill the 23,000 open caregiver positions across the country. State.

In Illinois, lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved funding increases and a new pay scale for certified practical nurses based on their tenure and job level.

“We are both humbled and excited to reach an agreement after nearly two years of discussions and negotiations,” said Angela Schnepf, president and CEO of LeadingAge Illinois. McKnight Business Daily. “Our goal here is to improve care for Illinois residents by having a Medicaid system that encourages staffing and outcomes while strengthening our workforce. This compromise legislation does exactly that.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the state’s $2.5 billion annual nursing home funding would increase by about $700 million, with $100 million coming from the state’s general revenue fund and the rest. from federal Medicaid and local nursing home assessments, which by law are not supposed to be passed on to residents. The funding pays for the care of about 70% of the state’s 45,000 residents in skilled nursing facilities.

According to Schnepff, most of the funding increases are “tied to improving staffing and resident outcomes with transparency and accountability.” She pointed out that the endowment incentives are increasing from $290 million to $350 million. The new staffing component is responsible for incentivizing and rewarding improved staffing based on the care needs of the resident. The current amount of $65 million for endowment has no requirements or accountability.

The legislation also includes:

  • $70 million to establish a new quality program designed to evolve over time to drive continuous improvement.
  • $83 million to directly support the compensation, retention, tenure, promotion and training of certified practical nurses.
  • $34 million to end rural fare disparity.
  • $52 million to transition the acuity rate system from IV resource utilization groups to the patient-based payment model.
  • $170 million to increase base reimbursement and support nursing homes with higher levels of Medicaid recipients.

Illinois Health Care Association executive director Matt Hartman told the The McKnight Business Daily that he is “delighted” with the budget and the changes that replace the “obsolete” methodology.

“That’s more money than ever has ever been invested in paying these suppliers… It’s timely,” he said.