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Nursing Home Funding Slashed

Legislative changes cut funding, reduce hours for direct nursing care

“Good care costs good money; yet the gap between the cost of care and the reimbursement for that care has been growing wider every year," Reed said. He said that nearly 70 percent of the expense of nursing home care comes from personnel costs, and the cuts will mean the "facilities' ability to do their jobs well have become even more challenging."

State Rep. Mark Pafford, a West Palm Beach Democrat, said, "There were some of us who wanted to protect against things like that, but when you have the power like [Republican legislative leaders] do, you can sneak things through."

Democratic legislators and the Florida Medical Association have urged the federal government to reject the move to place all Medicaid beneficiaries into managed care programs. Long-term care recipients will be the first switched to managed care, in July 2012. The federal government has not indicated when it may rule on the lawmakers' request.

Floridians "are not going to be real happy about having a clerk in Nebraska making decisions about long-term care in Florida," said McRay, who noted that the reduction in staff standards would have a ripple effect on the treatment of private-pay residents because nursing homes will try to conform to one set of guidelines. He added that AARP Florida will fight for changes that will benefit nursing home residents and will urge residents and family members to report all incidents of mistreatment and neglect to their legislators.

Also of interest: Moving out of the nursing home. >>

John Van Gieson is a freelance writer living in Tallahassee, Fla.


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