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THCA on 2009 Legislative Session: Seniors' Medicaid-Financed Nursing Home Care Requires Substantially More Investment as Population Ages, Care Needs Grow

$60 Million Medicaid Funding Boost Merely Scratches Surface in Terms of Meeting Seniors' Realistic Needs

AUSTIN, Texas, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In summing up the 2009 session of the Texas Legislature prior to the initiation of the special session called by Governor Rick Perry, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) said that while thankful for a marginal 3% rate increase ($60 million general revenue) for Medicaid-financed nursing home care, substantially more investment is required in the years ahead to ensure the continued provision of quality care for a rapidly aging population with growing care needs.

"While Texas seniors and the providers who care for them are thankful for a small increase in Medicaid funding, let there be no doubt that the Legislature is still hundreds of millions short when it comes addressing seniors' needs today and the growing level of care they will require in the years ahead," said Tim Graves, President of THCA. "From a budgetary standpoint, the Legislature remains far behind the curve in terms of recognizing and acting upon the fact that funding adequacy is a necessary prerequisite for the preservation of quality care for every senior who needs it."

The THCA President reiterated his point that the only viable funding level for Medicaid-financed nursing home care was the estimate provided in the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Consolidated Budget showing $368 million in new General Revenue (GR) funding was needed in the 2010-2011 biennium to address the operating and staffing needs of Texas nursing homes -- which serve almost 60,000 Medicaid nursing home residents twenty-four hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

"THCA's mission moving forward in 2009 and 2010 will be to continue educating lawmakers that making an appropriate investment in Medicaid represents smart health care policy," Graves continued. "Doing so can both reduce the number and frequency of hospital admissions by improving resident health, and increase the capability of nursing facilities themselves to successfully treat more complex medical conditions and incidents at lower cost to taxpayers."

Graves also said that looming federal Medicare cuts included in President Barack Obama's FY 2010 federal budget further threaten Texas seniors, and noted that the interdependence of Medicaid and Medicare financing is a dangerous phenomenon requiring more attention from state and federal lawmakers. "The backbone of Texas' long term care system is our dedicated workforce, and the financial squeeze placed on facilities by low Medicaid rates in Texas and potentially reduced Medicare funding from Washington ultimately impacts our oldest seniors' access to the care they need simply to live."

Founded in 1950, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) is the largest long term care association in Texas. THCA represents a broad spectrum of long-term care providers and professionals offering long term, rehabilitative and specialized health care services. Member facilities, owned by both for-profit and non-profit entities, include nursing facilities, specialized rehabilitation facilities, and assisted living facilities.

SOURCE Texas Health Care Association
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