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LETTER: Proposed changes would hurt Pa. seniors
While many taxpayers and the media are paying close attention to ongoing state budget negotiations, this weekend the state Department of Human Services (DHS) published proposed changes to its reimbursement formula for nursing home facilities that will reward some of Pennsylvania's lower-staffed facilities by slashing funds from higher-staffed providers. Staffing has a direct impact on quality care.
The federal government grades nursing facilities using a star system: five being the best and one being the worst. DHS wants to actually reward 185 facilities that received only one or two stars by increasing their Medicaid funding by millions of dollars. Many of those facilities are owned by out-of-state, publicly traded companies. At the same time, 104 Pennsylvania nursing facilities with the highest ratings of four or five stars will have their funding cut drastically. DHS is, in essence, "taxing" high-quality providers in order to increase profits of lower quality facilities.
Gov. Tom Wolf set the stage in his budget address to rebalance the care system for older adults. If done right, it could reinvent a system to help seniors get the right care in the right setting at the right time. This shocking proposal simply doesn't align with the governor's stated goals of improving the quality of services for older adults. Slashing funds of the best-performing nursing facilities in order to increase the bottom line of lower quality providers will hurt Gov. Wolf's laudable goals — and Pennsylvania's most vulnerable seniors.
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