If Medicaid cuts go through, local family doesn’t have another option

37-year-old requires 24-hour care, cannot live on his own

LAS VEGAS – For Marie Dahl, the repercussions of the cuts to Medicaid currently proposed as part of the plan to balance the state budget are inconceivable.

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. It’s a situation Dahl’s family is all too familiar with. Dahl’s sister also has a son who is handicapped and requires skilled nursing care.

And their sons aren’t the only ones who aren’t the “traditional” age (and haven’t had a lifetime to save enough money to afford skilled nursing care out-of-pocket) one would expect to find in a skilled nursing facility. Twenty percent of those admitted to skilled nursing are 31-60 years old.

“There’s no way I could take care of him at home,” Dahl, 66, said. “I can’t physically handle him, and I can’t afford to bring someone in to help me.”

Dahl visits Scotty at least every other day – oftentimes more.  She works full time and is a single parent. Scotty’s father has been deceased for several years.

“You don’t enroll someone into a skilled nursing facility because you want to,” she said. “You do it because you have to.”

It’s families like Dahl’s that Nevada Health Care Association is representing as it opposes budget cuts to Medicaid reimbursements (as they relate to the long-term care profession).

“There are more than 6,000 residents using services provided by skilled nursing facilities in Nevada,” said Charles Perry, president and chief legislative liaison for the Nevada Health Care Association. “Each one of those residents is just like Scotty – has a story just like Scotty’s. For most of them, there are no other options if these Medicaid cuts go through.”

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.

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.

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 800-307-0942 or visit www.nvhca.org.