As a way to pump some much needed funding into nursing homes to help with staffing shortages, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 8, also known as the ARPA Funds bill, which includes financial support for long-term care in the state.
The bill proposes $200 million as grants for nursing homes and $178.3 million in grants for assisted living facilities, home health agencies, community attendants and facilities that serve individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities in an intermediate care facility.
It authorizes the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds as a way to help these facilities recruit and retain staff.
“We’re really glad to see that the legislature recognized care for the elderly to be a priority,” Kevin Warren, president and CEO of Texas Health Care Association told Skilled Nursing News. “There’s still a significant need for recruitment and retention and these additional funds are going to help providers here in Texas.”
The American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March, included some direct aid to nursing homes and federal stimulus funds for states to use at their own discretion.
Last month, the THCA requested $400 million, or 3% of the state’s $16.7 billion the state received through the APRA, to help providers staff buildings amid the skilled nursing workforce shortage.
“We had initially requested $400 million for nursing facilities and at the end of the day they came back with $200 million,” Warren explained.
He hopes to find out when nursing homes can access the funding soon.
“I don’t think it’s going to solve the issue but I do think it’s a positive investment towards helping to stabilize and allow [operators] to compete in their markets but it’s no way going to solve the issue,” Warren said.
Fort Worth, Texas-based Focused Post Acute Care Partners told SNN when the initial request was made that it was operating with 60% of its workforce and 700 of its 1,700 staff members had yet to confirm their vaccination status following the federal mandate.
A recent THCA member survey revealed that over 30% of long-term care facilities have had to restrict new admissions due to staffing shortages.
“We’ve got both short and long-term staffing issues that we’re going to need to address and we’re going to continue to work with the legislature and focus on Medicaid long-term,” Warren said.