Nursing Home Groups Discuss Challenges

Dec. 19, 2018, 4:06 p.m. ·

Roger Thompson speaks about financial challenges for nursing homes (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

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Three nursing home groups met Wednesday to discuss issues facing the industry in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Healthcare Association, Rural Health Development, and LeadingAge Nebraska pointed to three main problems facing nursing homes: Medicaid reimbursement, low occupancy, and staffing.

Ron Ross is president of Rural Health Development. He offered a possible solution to the reimbursement piece.

“The nursing home industry needs its appropriation, the amount of money that the legislature sets aside for us, to be in our own bucket, and it’s not co-mingled with all these other Medicaid programs out there.”

The State of Nebraska reimburses nursing homes for each resident on Medicaid based on costs. The Department of Health and Human Services says a separate bucket would actually have hurt nursing homes this year, as they received more money than was originally appropriated.

Thomas “Rocky” Thompson is Deputy Director for Medicaid for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. He says cost-based reimbursement is an old system HHS is working on changing.

“It doesn’t factor in things like quality, and I know that our Medicaid director, Dr. Mathew Van Patton is very interested in the actual quality of care that’s delivered to the most vulnerable in our state, including our elderly relatives.”

Nursing home industry representatives claim that rising costs have led to the closure of 33 nursing homes in Nebraska over the last 3 years, and to 33 more being placed in receivership.

However, some closures are of facilities on the same site, and a large chunk of facilities placed in receivership were part of a nationwide issue with one company.

If the number of nursing homes significantly decreases, it could cause problems as the Baby Boomer generation ages and more people require nursing home care.