Most residents in nursing homes are on Medicaid, and dedicated caregivers and support staff are there to serve them. And, yet, too often we are not there for these workers, even after the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted unprecedented trauma. Thus New Hampshire nursing homes, despite unprecedented wage increases, have experienced one of the nation's six-worst staffing shortages, denying access to nursing home care to hundreds of Granite Staters and backing them up in hospitals when they're ready to be discharged.
Yet this year New Hampshire policymakers stepped up, beginning with Governor Sununu proposing annual Medicaid increases in the two-year budget that begins July 1, continuing with a bipartisan House budget improving upon those Medicaid increases, and culminating in a Senate budget that largely embraced what the House did on Medicaid. That budget passed the Senate unanimously June 7 and then the House overwhelmingly June 8, in a display of historic bipartisanship and agreement between the two chambers.
With the governor's proposed increase already built into July 1 rates, the budget further helps home and community-based care and nursing home care alike, without pitting vulnerable populations, and the dedicated workers who serve them, against one another. For nursing homes, on top of annual 3% increases, these additional state resources are provided (and will be doubled by a federal match): "$4,677,979 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024 and $9,355,958 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2025[.]" For assisted living: "$708,678 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024 and $1,417,355 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2025[.]" All told, these funds mean facility-based care should receive no less than a 12% Medicaid funding increase over two years.
Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is given "the sums of $12,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024, and $12,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2025, for the purpose of increasing Medicaid provider rates, excluding rates for hospital inpatient and hospital outpatient services.” These sums, to be allocated at DHHS discretion, will also be doubled by a federal match.
We thank both parties in the New Hampshire Legislature for doing the right thing and working to save long-term care at a time when it's facing its greatest crisis. We also thank the New Hampshire Hospital Association, which volunteered to give up hospital rate increases to make more resources available for long-term care. Finally, we thank DHHS for looking out for our Medicaid populations.