Too many communities are without long-term care options, advocates want more Medicaid dollars with new bills

Feb. 8, 2024, 4 p.m. ·

Jeanne Gentry speaks at the Nebraska Capitol in front of a podium.
Jeanne Gentry moved more than two hours away from home to receive long-term care. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media News)

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Financial issues are plaguing Nebraskans’ ability to access long-term care. Bills in the Nebraska Legislature would increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for assisted living and nursing homes.

There are 15 counties in Nebraska without a single nursing home or assisted living facility in them, according to the Nebraska Health Care Association.

Legislative Bills 941 and 942 would improve Medicaid reimbursement rates for assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

Jeanne Gentry lives near Hyannis, Nebraska. After foot surgery, Gentry needed long-term care.

“I was left searching for a care facility near my home. I found Brookstone View in Broken Bow, which is two and a half hours away from my home,” Gentry said.

She stayed in Broken Bow — far away from her family — for eight weeks. She missed a friend’s funeral and getting her daughter ready to go off to college.

Jalene Carpenter stands in front of a podium in the Capitol Rotunda.
Jalene Carpenter, president of the Nebraska Health Care Association, says a new bill would close the funding gaps experienced by long-term care facilities in Nebraska. (Photo by Aaron Bonderson, Nebraska Public Media News)

Jalene Carpenter is the president of the Nebraska Health Care Association. She said a few reasons have led to the missing long-term care options for many Nebraskans.

“This is mostly due to a very tight labor market, rapid inflation that caused the cost of goods and services to increase and soar, and quite frankly inadequate funding that has not kept up with the cost of care,” Carpenter said.

LB 941 and 942 would increase Medicaid funding for assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Combined, the two bills would appropriate $12.2 million in general funds with $17.2 million of federal money, according to the NHCA.

Carpenter said the average nursing home loses $49 per day per Medicaid resident but this would help close that gap.

The bills were introduced by Senator Myron Dorn of Adams and head to committee hearings next Tuesday, Feb. 13.