Most residents in nursing homes are on Medicaid, and dedicated caregivers and 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.
Although research proves the nursing home sector gave the largest wage increases in all health care during the pandemic (in NH, wage costs went up 23.7% from 2019-21, and are up more since), it also saw the biggest employment drop. Predatory out-of-state staffing agencies exploit the crisis.
New Hampshire has one of the nation's 5-worst staffing shortfalls, forcing those needing nursing home care to wait in hospitals or at home .
American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act dollars should assist in addressing the toll of COVID-19, just as Gov. Sununu used federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to support care. At a minimum, a very significant Medicaid increase is needed.
Consider what other states did in 2022. Nebraska lawmakers overrode a veto, and gave nursing home care a 17% funding increase. Pennsylvania's Republican legislature approved a 17.5% rate increase, and $131 million in ARP Act funds for nursing homes, and $26.5 million for assisted living. On Nov. 16, Wisconsin announced what will equate to a 23% Medicaid rate increase for 7/1/22-6/30/23, by raising to 91% the proportion of Medicaid care costs that it covers.
On March 20, 2023, Alabama Gov. Ivey gave nursing homes another $100 million in ARP funds, on top of $40 million previously.
Encourage NH policymakers to keep shoring up our state's fragile long-term care system using American Rescue Plan Act funds, and a 15% Medicaid funding increase, to address an unprecedented crisis.
The situation is urgent: We do not want the tragic closures, resident displacement , and job losses experienced in other states. We have already seen pandemic-forced closures of two Medicaid-serving, family-run NH assisted living facilities.
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