Nursing home professionals from all over Texas gathered today at the Capitol, asking lawmakers to expand Medicaid funding to care for more of the state’s seniors.
Paul Gerharter is director of nursing at Touchstone Communities, a provider of nursing home care in Central and South Texas. He says state budgets have lessened the number of nursing homes in the midst of a growing need for long-term care.
“The only increase that we’re really seeing is in that there’s a drive and initiative from hospitals to place people in our setting,” Gerharter said. “And as those care needs go up it’s very difficult to deliver that level of care without the same funding level that we’ve had in the past.”
Robin Hayes is vice president of clinical services at Mason Health in Austin. She said many Texans believe nursing homes to be the end of the line for patients.
“Not everybody stays in a nursing home. They are a great benefit in regards to getting rehab to home,” Hayes said. “I think a lot of people misunderstand that nursing homes are a place that people permanently stay and that’s not necessarily true. It needs to be considered as part of a continuum of care for people to transition back to home, or to assisted living.”
Gerharter says that Texas’ low Medicaid spending has led to hiring freezes and low reimbursement rates for nursing homes.
“When you look at this industry and you look at where we’re headed, it’s a sad statement to think that do rank as low as we do when you look at the states across the board,” Gerharter said.
This year, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission suggested an increase in state spending for long-term care over the next biennium.