LeadingAge PA Advocates for Medicaid Rate Increases for Nursing Homes and LIFE Programs

LeadingAge PA rallyPhoto courtesy of LeadingAge PA

HARRISBURG, PA — This week, LeadingAge PA, along with its members and residents, gathered at the state Capitol to push for much-needed Medicaid rate increases for nursing homes and Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE) providers. They aim to secure these funds in the upcoming 2024-25 state budget.

Nursing homes play a crucial role in Pennsylvania’s healthcare system, serving tens of thousands of residents. Yet, chronic underfunding has led to closures and sales, affecting families statewide. Over the past four years, 25 nursing homes have closed, and 2,588 beds have been decertified. This leaves about 85,000 beds available in a state where over 2.2 million people are aged 65 and older.

Similarly, Pennsylvania’s LIFE program, which supports the elderly in living independently, has faced significant funding challenges. Despite growing staffing needs and financial pressures, the program hasn’t seen a substantial rate increase in over a decade.

LeadingAge PA is calling for a $70 million investment in nursing homes. This funding would ensure that older Pennsylvanians continue to have access to care and help facilities meet increasing staffing requirements. Additionally, they are requesting a minimum of $8.9 million plus inflation for LIFE providers to address their funding gap.

“Our senior care providers are facing an uphill battle,” said Vicki Loucks, Board Chair of LeadingAge PA and COO of Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare. “Without proper Medicaid funding, we cannot compete against other employers. It’s more cost-effective not to fill a bed. This is why we need support from those in state government – we need a reasonable Medicaid increase in this budget cycle, or more seniors will lose access to the high-quality care and services they deserve.”

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According to a survey by LeadingAge PA, nearly half of the facilities have declined hospital referrals in the past two to three months due to staffing challenges and inadequate Medicaid reimbursement rates.

“In just one month, nursing homes in Pennsylvania will be required to meet staffing ratios that are insufficiently funded,” said Garry Pezzano, President and CEO of LeadingAge PA. “Today is about responding to the crisis that jeopardizes access to care for older Pennsylvanians. We insist that $70 million for nursing homes and at least $8.9 million for LIFE programs be included in the upcoming state budget. We stand ready to work with the PA General Assembly, the Shapiro administration, and other stakeholders to ensure older adults have access to the care they want, need, and deserve. Without funding there is no workforce; without workforce there is no care.”

Urgent Need: Boosting Medicaid Funding for Elderly Care in Pennsylvania

The call for increased Medicaid funding is not just a plea for financial support. It represents a critical investment in the infrastructure that supports some of the most vulnerable citizens. The aging population in Pennsylvania requires consistent and reliable care, which can only be provided if facilities are adequately funded and staffed.

The broader implications of failing to address these funding issues are dire. More closures could result in fewer options for families seeking quality care for their loved ones. This situation exacerbates the strain on remaining facilities, potentially diminishing the quality of care across the board.

In summary, LeadingAge PA’s advocacy for increased Medicaid rates highlights a pressing issue within Pennsylvania’s healthcare system. As the 2024-25 state budget discussions progress, the hope is that lawmakers will recognize the urgency of the situation and allocate the necessary funds. Ensuring that nursing homes and LIFE programs are well-supported is essential for maintaining high standards of care for the state’s elderly population.

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