Nursing home administrators, frontline nurses, and other long-term caregivers will descend on the Florida Capitol Wednesday to ask lawmakers to renew the $138 million Medicaid funding increase approved last year to preserve quality care and protect caregiver jobs in Florida’s nursing homes. The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) members will show legislators exactly how much the loss of the increase will cost in elder care within their home counties – including more than $16 million in Miami-Dade, $12 million in Palm Beach, $11 million in Pinellas, and $9 million in Broward.
More than 400 of Florida’s 656 nursing homes will suffer losses averaging more than $300,000 each, money that translates directly into enhanced care for elders and resources for the trained professionals who provide that care. Legislative budget plans to eliminate the quality care funding come on the heels of a recent FHCA report showing how the quality of Florida’s nursing home care has improved dramatically over the last few years, thanks in large part to supporting legislative funding. The office visits to legislators are part of Florida Health Care Association’s weekly Lobby Wednesday activities.
“Florida’s nursing centers care for more than 71,000 seniors and people with disabilities, and on any given day nearly 48,000 of those individuals rely on Medicaid to pay for their care,” said Emmett Reed, FHCA Executive Director. “If the 2018 funding increase goes away, some Florida counties that care for a large share of residents can expect to lose staggering amounts of support for nursing home care. With so much of Florida’s elderly population depending on others for their care, these resources are critical to ensure that those over–65 residents can continue aging with dignity and receive the best services possible.”
Some rural areas with only one nursing home, including Franklin, Holmes, Gulf, Wakulla and Washington counties, will have losses ranging from nearly $350,000 to $690,000. A recent New York Times article detailed how rural nursing homes have either closed or merged over the past decade due to inadequate Medicaid reimbursements, crippling labor shortages, and other factors, forcing residents with few options into centers that are miles away from friends and family.
The impact will be dramatically higher in large and mid-size counties, where total losses for elder care in nursing homes will be slashed by hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. In total, 29 counties – more than two in five Florida counties – will lose more than $1 million for nursing home care for elders, while another 13 counties will lost more than a half-million dollars.
“We’ve heard lawmakers say there are tough choices to be made this session. But with quality care on the rise, a rapidly growing aging population, a workforce crisis, and limited long-term care resources, we hope the Legislature makes the right decision in the end,” Reed continued. “Florida should never balance its budget on the backs of our frailest elders and the caregivers who are making a difference in their lives every day.”
Florida Health Care Association recently joined forces with AARP and LeadingAge Florida to form the Coalition for Silver Solutions, which will develop short- and long-term strategies to meet the health care needs of Florida’s aging population. Among the short-term action items is advocating to renew the $138 million in Medicaid funding for nursing home care. During a press conference to launch the Coalition, FHCA pointed to its recent quality report showing that Florida has jumped from 16th in the nation into the Top Ten in overall quality. FHCA notes that those quality strides are a result of last year’s funding increase directed under the newly implanted Prospective Payment System.
Reed noted, “Funding and quality go hand in hand, and one year of adequate funding is simply not enough for centers to recruit and retain the right staff to maintain the quality outcomes they’re achieving.”
*Click here to access a list of projected nursing home funding losses by county, Senate and House District or by legislator.
About the Florida Health Care Association
The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation which serves nearly 1,000 members and represents over 500 long term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, post-acute and sub-acute care, short-term rehab, assisted living and other services to the frail elderly and individuals with disabilities in Florida. The mission of FHCA is to advance the quality of services, image, professional development and financial stability of its members. As Florida’s first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the elderly they serve, the Association has worked diligently since 1954 to assist its members with continuously improving quality of care and quality of life for the state’s growing elder care population. For more information about the Florida Health Care Association, visit fhca.org.