More retirement home closures expected – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA
HHS Secretary Marylou Sudders told lawmakers seniors are choosing assisted living or assisted living instead of nursing homes.
NEEDHAM – More and more Massachusetts seniors are turning to assisted living or assisted living at home, and these choices are making problems worse in the nursing home industry.
“There will be additional closures,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders told lawmakers during a fiscal year 2020 budget hearing.
One in four nursing homes has occupancy rates of 80% or less, which she says is “unsustainable,” and the average occupancy rate is 86%.
As the state’s senior population grows, state officials need to rethink nursing home rates and come up with a long-term plan while delivering a short-term $ 25 million program to stabilize nursing homes. care, said Sudders.
Demographic trends in Massachusetts mean that more and more residents are faced with choices about their care as they age or caring for loved ones. Acting Seniors’ Affairs Secretary Robin Lipson has told state lawmakers that people are seven to ten years beyond their ability to drive, creating mobility issues and concerns about isolation. And Sudders said the average life expectancy in Massachusetts increased to 80 years and eight months in 2016, beating national trends.
In the meantime, there has been an explosive growth in assisted living, Sudders said, as older consumers enjoy an alternative to nursing homes.
In a Joint Ways and Means Committee hearing on the FY2020 budget on Monday, Rep. David Muradian from Grafton reminded Sudders that in addition to the role they foresee in caregiving, homes Pensioners are also large employers in the state and protecting the jobs of nursing home workers is a consideration for lawmakers.
Changes in the way Medicare covers home care are also having impacts, Sudders said, creating a “perfect storm” in the industry.
In his testimony, MassHealth director Daniel Tsai said Medicare policy changes had reduced nursing home use by 25% and funding by $ 300 million in Massachusetts since 2011. Changes further reimbursements are expected in October, Tsai said.
MassHealth increased its total nursing home spending from 2015 to 2017 by 1.4%, even as the number of MassHealth nursing home members declined by 3.2%. And in October 2018, MassHealth added an additional $ 25 million in annual funding to support nursing homes and maintained $ 38.3 million in funding for direct care workers.
However, Tsai warned that long-term reforms are needed.
“The current structure of the nursing home industry is not sustainable,” he said. “Long-term reforms are needed to address these challenges; increased funding for MassHealth is not enough on its own.”
Regulatory changes have also been made to help the nursing home industry, Mr Sudders said, citing changes to streamline the closure process and a change to allow homes to use empty wings for other services. .