Letters to the Editor

Proposed state cuts would take $40 million away from Medicaid payments to nursing homes

State lawmakers may be balancing the budget, but it’s on the backs of nursing home residents and the people who care for them.

Proposed cuts would take $40 million away from Medicaid payments to nursing homes – that’s $93.8 million if federal matching funds are included. Currently, 62 percent of our population at Islands Convalescent Center rely on Medicaid to help pay for their care.

Our facility already struggles to balance a precarious budget with a high Medicaid census. It costs us $180 per day to care for each residents, though the current rate of reimbursement by the state is just $150 per day. Further cuts will push us to the brink.

The obvious response is to cut expenses, programs and jobs. Labor makes up at least 65 percent of our expense in a care industry, yet if we cut jobs we affect patient care — this is an oxymoron result.

In a care industry, cut care services? Yet we will still be held accountable for high quality of care in the eyes of state regulators, our families and most importantly to our residents.

As the activities director of Islands Convalescent Center and a recreation enthusiast on behalf of seniors, I’m very concerned that local vulnerable adults who have special nursing and recreational care needs will not have the opportunity to be cared for as they deserve.

We can provide care for up to 75 residents and employ 75 staff. Our goal is to be able to meet the needs of our current residents and prospective ones – and in addition, save the jobs of the people who care for them.

It’s hard to believe these cuts are being proposed despite almost $110 million of federal stimulus money on the way to our state specifically for long-term care. Legislators should use that money as it was intended: to avoid cuts to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Please join me in demanding legislators avoid cuts to long-term care. Call (800) 562-6000, and you can visit www.helpwashingtonseniors.org

Betsy Anderson, activities director
Islands Convalescent Center
Friday Harbor

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