Ricketts Directing $40 Million to Long-Term Care for COVID Costs

Nov. 2, 2020, 2:55 p.m. ·

Heath Boddy, Nebraska Health Care Association, speaks Monday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

Listen To This Story

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will be getting another $40 million for the increased costs of caring for people in the pandemic.

Medicaid currently pays long-term care facilities about $200 a day per person to care for residents. Ricketts said that will be increased by $20 a day, retroactive to May 1 and continuing through the end of the year. That will cost about $40 million, of which $15 million will come out of the state’s Medicaid budget, and $25 million from the feds.

Heath Boddy of the Nebraska Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes and assisted living facilities, says some of the money will help pay providers for money already spent just to keep going.

“It’ll also allow, in my mind, the ability for a provider to maybe increase wages if they need to, maybe to pay some retention incentives if they would choose to, and to probably recruit some more people,” Boddy said.

Dr. Gary Anthone, the state’s chief medical officer, said so far, 1,774 residents and 1,832 staff members of long-term care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, and there have been 236 deaths, all of them among residents, accounting for about 36 percent of the state’s total deaths from the disease.

Ricketts also explained his reasoning behind an executive order he issued recently allowing members of local governing boards, like school boards or county boards, to participate in and vote in meetings remotely.

“What we’re finding over the last several weeks is because of the number of people who were quarantining or isolating, that boards were having difficulty being able to get a quorum and so that’s why we’re going to allow those board members to be able to participate electronically … but the regular board meeting will still have to happen, you still have to have public access and so forth,” Ricketts said.