The state of New Mexico ranks at the bottom in terms of serious skilled nursing deficiencies per facility, according to a recent analysis conducted by a pair of news organizations.
Out of the 74 facilities in the state certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 36 had “serious deficiencies” between 2015 and 2018, the non-profit journalism outlet ProPublica reported. Facilities in the Land of Enchantment also racked up $2.4 million in fines over that period, with 44 payment suspensions.
Those numbers, also reported by the Albuquerque Journal, have troubled local authorities, with the state attorney general filing civil suits against providers Preferred Care and Cathedral Rock over an alleged failure to provide basic services.
The attorney general’s office hopes the cases will serve as a warning to “other current operators that are not providing adequate nursing home care,” the Journal reported.
However, New Mexico doesn’t rank near the bottom in some of the other key metrics that ProPublica tracks in its ongoing research, including average fine — a category led far and away by West Virginia at $229,000 — and total payment suspensions, which Texas topped with 260; Texas’s population is more than 10 times greater than New Mexico’s.
The Journal identified several potential reasons for the high per-facility deficiency ratio, including low staffing hours per resident and Medicaid reimbursement levels that aren’t keeping up with demand for skilled nursing services in New Mexico, which is projected to have the fourth-highest proportion of 65-and-older residents in the United States by 2030.
In response, the state’s health department boosted Medicaid rates by 2.7% in January and will grant another 1.84% increase in July, according to the Journal — though the managing partner of a company that owns a troubled nursing home in the process of turning around its operations also said that there’s more work to be done in New Mexico.
“I’d encourage people to educate themselves on the reimbursement issues, and educate their state legislators,” Harvey Pelovsky of Rim Country Health told the paper. “Nursing homes are an important part of the continuum of care. They shouldn’t be the weakest link.”
Written by Alex Spanko