Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Ponder Nursing Home Cuts State Can't Reduce Payments to Facilities without Compromising Quality, Officials Say

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Ponder Nursing Home Cuts State Can't Reduce Payments to Facilities without Compromising Quality, Officials Say

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Top lawmakers are questioning whether the state can

cut government payments to Georgia nursing homes $38 million

without producing dire consequences for the 33,000 elderly and

disabled Medicaid patients in long-term care facilities.

The state House and Senate appropriations committees met

yesterday to get some answers from officials who run the state's

$3.2 billion Medicaid program.

The state Department of Medical Assistance plans to reduce

payments to nursing homes starting July 1, and industry

officials say it could lead to staff layoffs and possibly force

them to buy cheaper food and supplies for residents.

Legislators, who approve the state Medicaid budget, are hearing

the results may be even worse.

"There has been considerable talk about patients being put out

of nursing homes . . .," said Rep. Terry Coleman, D-Eastman,

chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee.

"I don't see how we can cut too much without hurting the people

we care for," added Rep. Buddy Childers, D-Rome, chairman of the

House Health and Ecology Committee.

Medicaid officials earlier this month released a new formula

for reimbursing nursing homes that would shrink payments for

nursing care, food services, housekeeping and administrative

costs at the state's 341 nursing homes.

The state Medicaid board will vote on the new reimbursement

formula next month.

The Medicaid officials say some nursing homes could afford the

cutbacks if they'd simply stop paying their executives so much.

Overall, nursing homes would lose $38 million in state and

federal reimbursements.

Medicaid officials say they have no choice.

DMA Commissioner Marge Smith told lawmakers her Medicaid agency

will need millions of dollars more each year just to keep up

with the current funding priorities for the program, which also

provides health care for the poor and disabled.

Meanwhile, Congress is debating cutting federal grants sent to

states to help run the program. …

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