Texas Medicaid Rates Need A Boost Because of Ranking and Urgent Need

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Urgent need to expand Texas long term care workforce to meet the growing demand for care will be severely undermined by the fact Texas' Medicaid rates rank 49th in the nation.Commenting on yesterday's release of the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) new report, "Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce," the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) said the urgent need to expand the state's long term care workforce to meet the growing demand for care will be severely undermined by the fact Texas' Medicaid rates rank 49th in the nation, and cannot support the investment in staff necessary to maintain care access to an aging population.

"The overall message of the IOM report is that there is both a supply and demand problem in regard to America's long term care labor force, and we as a state and nation must better prepare for the deluge of retirees by growing and investing in our workforce," said Tim Graves, President of THCA. "Medicaid plays an enormous role in shaping Texas' nursing home labor force and its long-term ability to meet the growing demand for care."

Continued Graves, "In 2010 and 2011, funds must be made available and appropriated that are at least sufficient to meet the costs of nursing home care as determined by the HHS Commission's rate setting methodology for the Texas Medicaid nursing home program. Failure to do so will lead to a worsening staffing crisis because facilities simply cannot compete in the local economy for the qualified staff we need, and that our residents deserve."

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The IOM analysis specifically warns the U.S. health-care work force is "too small and woefully unprepared" for the growing elderly population, and lays out a stark picture of increased demand for health-care workers - unmet by a stagnant or even dwindling supply of those trained to treat the elderly.

Graves said it is essential in the year ahead - before the next legislative session - to conduct an honest, straightforward policy discussion about how to strengthen the Texas Medicaid program's reimbursement rate, which has slipped to 49th in the entire nation. "Besides the fact the Texas Medicaid rate requires modification to reflect the realities of today's health care marketplace, we must also assess how the pending demographic tidal wave of retirees, a great many of whom will ultimately require long term care and services, will place further stress on an already over-burdened Medicaid service structure."

According to the national accounting firm BDO Seidman, and other sources, while the average national daily Medicaid rate per patient is $153.83, the Texas rate is just $106.59 - 49th nationally. Comparably, on a regional basis, New Mexico ranks 30th nationally, at $137.24; Oklahoma ranks 44th, at $116.84; Arkansas ranks 47th, at $111.76; and Louisiana ranks 45th, at $115.00.

The THCA President said that care quality in Texas nursing homes - and sustained progress in quality improvement - is directly tied to Medicaid funding stability. "Government has every right to insist upon quality care, but government also has an obligation to adequately finance that care - and the new IOM report and its recommendations help make the case for doing so."

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