Nursing Homes and Facilities for People with Intellectual Disabilities Face Steep Funding Cuts as Public Health Emergency Expires
Advocates call on lawmakers to increase funding and prevent mass closures
OKLAHOMA CITY – The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) will end tomorrow, May 11, leaving Oklahoma nursing homes and facilities that care for the intellectually disabled facing a steep funding cliff unless lawmakers are able to provide additional financial aid. The ongoing PHE allows nursing homes to tap federal supplemental funds of approximately $36 a day per Medicaid resident, helping facilities deal with the skyrocketing costs of equipment and labor during the pandemic. Those funds will be paid out by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) through June 30, 2023, but will be unavailable after that. Unfortunately, financial analysis shows that the supplemental payments still fell short of the cost of care.
Beginning July 1, the OHCA projects that the cost of treating a typical Medicaid resident in a skilled nursing facility will be $246 a day. Without the federal PHE funding, however, skilled nursing facilities will now receive only $189 per resident per day, a $57 gap. Similarly, facilities for people with intellectual disabilities will be paid less than their reported costs.
Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck says the current funding situation is untenable and is asking lawmakers to include funding to save nursing homes in the budget they are currently crafting.
“The cost of labor in the skilled nursing profession has risen astronomically in the last two years,” said Buck. “We’ve already seen facilities unable to keep up with skyrocketing costs that have been forced to close. Now, on top of all those challenges, we are about to experience what amounts to a practical funding cut of almost 20 percent beginning July 1. That is just not something our facilities can sustain. We have got to get funding levels up to the point where they are at least covering the cost of care. If we cannot, there will be mass closures.”
Buck said nursing home closures are traumatic for communities, families and vulnerable Oklahomans.
“Every time one of these facilities closes, especially in a rural area, you are losing one of the biggest employers in town. Second, you are forcing a family to find another option for a vulnerable loved one, and perhaps moving Grandma or Grandpa to a facility that isn’t ideal or is much farther away. Lastly, you are telling a resident that they can no longer live in their home. We don’t want to experience this kind of trauma across the state. Oklahomans are counting on their lawmakers to come through for them by passing a budget that adequately funds care for nursing home residents and Oklahomans with intellectual disabilities.”