“The Iowa Health Care Association represents 470 long-term care facilities, assisted living programs and home health organizations in Iowa that serve over 75 percent of Iowa’s Medicaid residents,” says Susan Cameron, the association’s lobbyist.
The group is pressing for a reset of the base level of reimbursement for nursing homes that care for poor elderly patients who have their stay in the home paid by the Medicaid program. State lawmakers approved a partial boost last year, about half of what the governor recommended.
“It is greatly appreciated and was critically necessary because these providers of Medicaid services had not had a full recalculation of their rates for more than three years,” Cameron says. “As you know, during that time wages and federal regulations have driven the cost to provide quality care higher.”
Nursing facilities are asking state officials for $15 million more to boost Medicaid reimbursement rates again. Cameron says the reset is critical as the state moves Medicaid patients into managed care plans over the next two years.
“It is critical that they enter the program with a rate that reflects more closely the currently cost of caring for these Medicaid patients,” Cameron says. “If not, the costs will obviously be shifted to the private-pay residents.”
The Branstad Administration has estimated the state will save $51 million by having private companies manage care for the 560,000 Medicaid patients in Iowa. Thirty-four percent of that estimated savings comes from anticipated reductions in payments to Iowa nursing homes.