Medicare/Medicaid budget cuts not just discussions for elderly

Budget cuts affect all Nevadans, including state’s high elderly population

LAS VEGAS – While the most popular discussions surrounding the Obama Administration’s proposed budget cuts have centered on how they will affect our nation’s hospitals, that’s only half the story.

In addition to hospitals, the budget cuts will also severely affect the long-term care industry (approximately 65-70 percent of a long-term care facility’s revenues come from public funds), which in turn affects everyone.

How? For years Charles Perry, executive director for Nevada Health Care Association, has been warning of the domino effect cuts of this kind would have. Perry, who has served as the voice for Nevada’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities for the past 30-plus years, recently sat down with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in Washington, D.C., to discuss this issue further.

In Nevada, there is a rising shortage of beds in nursing homes. Although the aging population is growing at a faster rate than any state in the nation, Nevada is “underbedded” compared to other U.S. states and has been for 40 years.

Even if patients are no longer eligible for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, they must be safely discharged from these facilities according to state and federal regulations. Thus, long-term care facilities end up housing an ever-increasing number of patients for free, causing these businesses to “eat” the cost to house patients, thereby drastically impacting the bottom line revenue the facilities make to keep their doors open to patients, Perry added.

As this continues to happen, long-term care facilities become increasingly stringent on who they let in in the first place and are also forced to lay off more and more staff to compensate for lack of reimbursements needed in order to sustain a facility’s livelihood itself.

“Without adequate long-term care services available, patients turn to hospital emergency rooms for help and in most cases, cannot afford the exorbitant health care costs billed to them if their insurance and Medicaid/Medicare cannot help pay for a portion of the cost,” Perry said. “The result boils down to who pays for the care received after millions of dollars have been spent and never reimbursed or paid? The taxpayers will.”

“The real question is, what kind of community do we want to be?” Perry said. “Healthcare and education must be a permanent focus of ours at all times.”

The Nevada Health Care Association is a non-profit organization of long-term care facilities and associate members together representing nearly 50 non-profit and for-profit assisted living, nursing facilities and sub-acute care providers that care for nearly 6,000 elderly and disabled individuals statewide and employ more than 8,000 Nevadans.

For more information regarding Nevada Health Care Association, call 702-434-2273 or visit www.nvhca.org.

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RELATED ADDITIONAL INFO:

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is currently considering a list of 10 percent reductions. The list he is considering can be found here: http://budget.state.nv.us/budget_2009_11/budget_reductions/10_pct_Reductions_Governor_Considering.pdf. Cuts relating to skilled nursing facilities can be found on page 54.

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