Saturday, July 30, 2011

Massachusetts Nursing home residents risk losing bed with Medicaid cut

Massachusetts nursing home residents who are briefly hospitalized or leave to visit their family risk losing their bed under a state funding cut finalized yesterday that illustrates the tough choices confronting state government in an era of tight budgets.

“I certainly appreciate the concerns raised by residents, advocates, caregivers, and members of the Legislature, but given our budget constraints, we had to move forward with this decision,’’ Dr. Julian Harris said in an interview.
The new rule goes into effect Nov. 1, Harris said
Federal law requires nursing homes to readmit a resident after a temporary leave to the first available bed in a shared room, but it does not guarantee the same room or bed as before.
Because so many nursing home residents have dementia, the prospect of facing a new bed and room each time they return can be especially confusing, advocates said.

“Imagine the stress this will put on families, heading into the winter holiday season, and they’re thinking, ‘I will have to tell my loved one that I won’t be able to bring them home for Thanksgiving because they’ll risk losing their bed,’ ’’ said Debbie Banda, director of the Massachusetts office of AARP, a major interest group representing older Americans.

Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, a statewide consumer group, collected petitions bearing nearly 1,600 signatures in hopes of persuading lawmakers and the Patrick administration to save the program and seek cuts elsewhere in the state’s $10.3 billion Medicaid budget.

“There will be devastating consequences to residents if they lose their beds in the place they call home,’’ said Arlene Germain, the group’s president.

Nursing home residents risk losing bed with state Medicaid cut - The Boston Globe

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