Washington Governor Inslee Lays Foundation for Policy to Benefit Seniors

Supplemental proposal targets quality through enhanced payments for Medicaid patients in skilled nursing facilities

The Washington Health Care Association comments on Governor Inslee's budget targeting benefits to seniors

Tumwater, Washington – Seniors will have better access to quality care in skilled nursing facilities under Governor Jay Inslee’s supplemental budget proposal unveiled today in Olympia on December 17, 2013. The Governor’s plan allocates $29 million to provide a long overdue update to Medicaid daily rates for skilled nursing homes serving Washington’s most frail.

“We appreciate the Governor’s understanding about the critical need to provide funding to those state Medicaid clients in nursing homes,” according to Jeff Hyatt, chairman of the board of directors at the Washington Health Care Association. “Medicaid rates in nursing homes are already short by more than $33 per day, and that gap in payment has a significant impact on quality—particularly since the majority of care costs are labor-related.”

According to Mr. Hyatt, the supplemental budget plan reinforces Governor Inslee’s desire to provide care for Washington seniors in nursing homes at a time when updating rates is critical. Skilled nursing facility costs are based on 2007 costs, and fall short by more than $100 million annually.

The Governor’s plan aims resources toward providers serving the majority of Washington’s Medicaid clients. Nursing home operators have proposed an increase to a statewide provider assessment to fund rates. This funding mechanism is employed by a majority of states seeking to augment the federal match for services provided to Medicaid clients.

“While we appreciate this down payment on quality care, we are disappointed that there was no update for assisted living Medicaid rates,” noted Hyatt. “Assisted living Medicaid rates average $65 per day—less than $3 per hour and are based on 2005 costs. Our attention must now turn to the Legislature, where we will be working to help our policymakers understand the crucial need for funding this session. Our seniors, who helped build this country and can’t afford to pay for care, should not be denied access. Assisted living centers continue to reduce the number of Medicaid residents they care for based on the current rates being paid. This is creating access problems for our seniors that desperately need our help. The seniors of our great state deserve appropriate funding for appropriate care.”

Key Facts:

Here are some key facts about Medicaid-contracted care in Washington skilled and assisted living centers:

• The current nursing home Medicaid rate falls short by more than $28/resident day and in 2013, the rates shortfall is projected to increase by nearly $6 per day to $33.88.

• The 2013 Medicaid shortfall is projected at $100 million.

• Last year, more than half of the skilled nursing facilities in the state —118 skilled nursing facilities—lost money.

• More than 70 percent of the cost of long-term care is wage and labor-related.

About Washington Health Care Association (WHCA):

The Washington Health Care Association (WHCA) is a statewide non-profit organization representing over 400 assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. WHCA's mission is to promote quality long-term health care and services, while serving as an advocate for providers, staff, and the patients and residents they care for. Association members provide health and personal care, social support and housing to 25,000 frail, elderly and disabled Washingtonians each day. About 25,000 employees work for member facilities.

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