Your point of view: The Wolf administration must help nursing homes

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As we applaud the proposed investment in frontline hospital healthcare workers announced this week by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, nursing homes continue to be ground zero for the pandemic. Our members’ staff, residents and their families continue to feel the strain of the pandemic and its impact on our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

A lack of funding is creating a heartbreaking trend we’ve repeatedly reported during the pandemic: high-quality, nonprofit nursing homes are closing or being forced to sell to out-of-state companies. This month, the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg joined the list. As of 2020, retirement homes in Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, and Berks and Montgomery counties have closed or sold. While hospitals are currently grappling with frontline issues, nursing home issues began long before the pandemic.

Homes rely on Medicaid to care for residents who can no longer afford to pay for their care. Medicaid reimbursement rates in Pennsylvania have been steadily stabilized in state budgets. In 2017 alone, Pennsylvania nursing homes suffered a huge $631 million shortfall. Establishments relied on their Rainy Day funds to cover the shortfall, but the pandemic emptied those accounts.

Hospital care during COVID-19 is in the headlines, but nursing homes cannot be forgotten. Lawmakers and the Wolf administration must release emergency funding — and provide a robust increase in Medicaid funding in the upcoming 2022-23 fiscal budget. Without it, history shows more care homes will close.

Bob Bertolette

Interim President and CEO

AP LeadingAge

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