Oklahoma Joins Growing List of States Seeking More Nursing Home Funding

Three bills in the Oklahoma Legislature would increase funding for skilled nursing facilities while mandating a staffing increase, adding the Sooner State to a growing list of U.S. states that are trying to address funding shortfalls for nursing homes.

The Oklahoman reported the news.

On average, the state pays about $23 less than the cost of caring for patients each day, Brett Coble, board president of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) affiliate Care Providers Oklahoma, told the publication.

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AHCA represents for-profit nursing homes across the country, with various local state-level chapters.

The bills – Senate Bills 228 and 954 and House Bill 1902 – would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to pay at least 95% of the average cost that nursing homes incur when caring for residents. The bills would also boost the mandatory staffing ratio for facilities: The state currently requires 2.41 hours of direct care staffing per resident per day, and the legislation would mandate that homes provide 2.9 hours of direct care per resident.

Additional funding would help facilities provide more care, even though some facilities in Oklahoma already meet that standard, Mary Brinkley, executive director of LeadingAge Oklahoma, told the publication; LeadingAge represents nonprofit senior care facilities.

The bills would also alter the state’s quality improvement incentives to focus on resident weight loss, pressure sores, urinary tract infections, and antipsychotic drug prescriptions. Oklahoma currently offers incentives through a voluntary program that assesses facilities on employee turnover, patient satisfaction, and other factors.

Oklahoma is not the only state where nursing facilities face Medicaid shortfalls.

Nursing home leaders in South Dakota have said that without an increase in Medicaid funding, facility closures could lead to “statewide disaster.” Nursing homes in that state are facing a $42 million annual shortfall in Medicaid reimbursement, The Argus Leader reported last month. In Massachusetts, more than half of the state’s 401 skilled nursing providers are operating at a loss, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

In the U.S. as a whole, 62% of nursing home residents are covered by Medicaid, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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