Wisconsin nursing homes get financial aid from DHS to cover more Medicaid costs

The state Department of Health Services is releasing more money to cover Medicaid costs for Wisconsin nursing homes amid staffing shortages and demands for care for a rapidly growing aging population.

“This will be a very significant financial boost in the arm of nursing home organizations, and they desperately need this money to address workforce issues,” said John Sauer, president and chief executive officer. the leadership of LeadingAge Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving seniors and people. disabled.

DHS will increase the reimbursement rate from 77% this year to 91% in 2023. On Wednesday, the department said it was following a recommendation from the governor’s caregiving task force, with most of the money backing better wages and benefits for social workers.

Since 2016, Wisconsin has lost 56 nursing homes, including 10 that closed this year, according to DHS data.

“We know there’s probably a handful of facilities that are probably considering whether or not to close right now,” Sauer said.

“So I guess we’re paying for the inadequacies of our payment system of the past, it’s caught up with us…and it’s been exacerbated and made more acute by the pandemic and kind of a general systemic crisis in the workforce” , He continued.

Increased funding will help recruitment and retention efforts

Nursing agency executives say the money is a boon for long-term care facilities to recruit and retain workers.

Rick Abrams is president and CEO of the Wisconsin Health Care Association and the Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living. He said the organizations hope to work with the state to create standards that allow establishments “to hire people at a higher salary because they know they will be reimbursed for it.”

DHS says funding is expected to reach nursing facilities within the next 60 days. But Sauer and Abrams say care facilities aren’t out of the woods yet. Research shows that wages paid to individual workers are historically slow to respond to inflation.

“The sad thing is that for some facilities it’s probably too late,” Sauer said, adding that some nursing homes haven’t been able to staff their beds. This has resulted in the loss of nearly 2,700 nursing home beds in Wisconsin since the pandemic began.

Since January, there have been more than 400 administrator and director of nursing job changes in the state, according to WHCA/WiCAL’s Abrams.

Sign up for daily news!

Stay informed with WPR’s email newsletter.

“When you have that kind of turnover in your management, the processes that you absolutely need to deliver quality healthcare are compromised, and we can’t have that,” he said.

Proponents agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed disruptions in the long-term care industry.

“If there’s a silver lining that can be drawn from this terrible pandemic, it’s the recognition that our long-term care infrastructure is in poor shape and needs much more attention,” Abrams said. .

Wisconsin’s demographics are also changing. By 2040, the aging population – those aged 65 and over – is expected to more than double. The projected growth rate for this group is 72 percent, compared to 12 percent for Wisconsin’s population as a whole, according to a report by the governor’s task force on caregiving.

Sauer said that doesn’t mean more nursing home beds will be built to match the growth rate.

“The needs of the people who reside in our nursing homes are going to increase. The level of services they need, the specialization of care they need, I think will increase over time. It’s already at a level historic, but I think that trend is going to continue,” Sauer said.

This view matches a DHS projection: “Demand for long-term care services will grow faster than the workforce will grow in the coming years,” DHS said in the release. Wednesday press release. According to the department, the state budget has allocated $500 million for nursing homes through 2023.

Sauer said the money was needed and warmly received.

“There’s pretty much universal recognition that nursing facilities have been underfunded,” Sauer said, adding that increasing the reimbursement rate has received broad support across the political spectrum.

“I think everyone really recognizes that these increases are long overdue, and they are certainly very much appreciated by those who live and work in nursing facilities,” he added.

About Miley Sawngett

Check Also

God of War Ragnarok: How to Earn More Hacksilver | Faster Cash Guide

Go get a lot of Kratos money. The currency of God of War Ragnarok is …