$274 million forecasted for state budget; Nevada Health Care Association encourages legislators to consider state’s most fragile citizens

Organization to rally at Nevada Legislative building May 17 to raise awareness of effects cuts to Medicaid would have on all Nevadans 

LAS VEGAS – Nevada finally received some good news Monday in regards to the state budget when a previously unaccounted for $274 million was forecasted. The money will go toward education and health and human services budgets. 

Nevada Health Care Association, which represents Nevada’s long-term care industry, is encouraging legislators to consider Nevada’s most fragile citizens when determining how the forecasted funds will “save” services from being lost due to budget cuts. Currently, hefty cuts to the state’s Medicaid reimbursements are proposed to help balance the state budget; such cuts would be devastating to the state’s long-term care industry. 

A nonprofit organization, NVHCA, with President and Chief Legislative Liaison Charles Perry at the helm, has been working tirelessly to educate Nevada’s legislators on the effects such cuts would have. Perry understands that Nevada is facing a large deficit, and his point isn’t that the long-term care profession needs the money more than anyone else. But, he says, Nevadans are going to have a big problem on their hands if cuts to Medicaid are approved. 

“There are more than 6,000 residents using services provided by skilled nursing facilities in Nevada,” Perry said. “Nevada Medicaid currently places, and pays for the care of, a substantial number of Nevada residents in out-of-state skilled nursing facilities.  Cuts of this magnitude could lead to increased reliance on out-of-state placement of Nevada citizens.”

Elizabeth Millett is one of those 6,000 residents. At age 55, she is currently a resident of Hearthstone of Northern Nevada, where she’s been for several months as a result of complications brought on by knee replacement surgery.

“It would be devastating to me (if the cuts to Medicaid were approved),” Millett said. “All I have is Medicaid. I can’t afford health insurance.” 

Marie Dahl, 66, of Southern Nevada also doesn’t know what her family would do if the cuts to Medicaid were approved. Dahl’s son, Scotty, has required total skilled nursing care since he was 5 years old. At 37, that means Scotty has been in a skilled nursing facility for 32 years. Scotty is severely handicapped. He can’t walk, talk or feed himself and he certainly can’t live alone or with his mother. 

“There’s no way I could take care of him at home,” Dahl said. “I can’t physically handle him, and I can’t afford to bring someone in to help me.” 

Nevada Medicaid already places, and pays for care, for a substantial number of its Medicaid recipients. According to Nevada Health Care Association’s estimations, severe cuts to care could take place due to financial constraints as these facilities as many rely heavily on Medicaid reimbursements for the services they provide to patients. Nevada is already under-bedded and will find itself even more so if facilities are strained even more so.

Furthermore, long-term care facilities are now increasingly being forced to only admit those who can show they have a pre-approved payment source due to lack, or already decreased, reimbursement rates received for the services these long term care professions provide to residents. With limited long-term care facilities available – or available to those who don’t have a pre-approved pay source – many patients may find themselves with hospital care as their primary care option, which will back up already very busy hospital waiting rooms even more than they already are. Because of this, the Nevada Hospital Association has teamed up with Nevada Health Care Association to educate Nevada’s legislators – as well as the public – about how these proposed cuts would play out. 

To raise awareness about the cuts to Medicaid that are proposed as part of the plan to balance the state budget, NVHCA will lead a Take Action Now rally Tuesday, May 17. The rally will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the lawn of the Nevada Legislative building – located in Carson City at 401 S. Carson Street. NVHCA is encouraging all of Nevada’s skilled nursing and long-term care facility employees – as well as the public – to take part in the rally. 

The nonprofit organization’s Take Action Now Campaign encourages all Nevadans to contact their legislators in opposition of the proposed cuts, which would be crippling to the state’s skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. 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 facility, and sub-acute care providers that care for over 6,000 elderly and disabled individuals statewide and employ more than 8,000 Nevadans. 

For more information regarding Nevada Health Care Association, call 800-307-0942 or visit www.nvhca.org.