Bills To Increase Funding For Nursing Homes Pass In Chambers

Tuesday, March 19th 2019, 8:17 am
By: Aaron Brilbeck

There’s a push to increase funding for nursing homes in the state. 

Backers say an investment of a few million dollars could bring in as much as $100 million in federal funds. 

House Bill 1902 and Senate Bill 280 both passed in their respective chambers. They’re asking for an additional $9 to $13 million to help care for the state’s most vulnerable. 

“And in return what a taxpayer is going to get is they’re going to get more staff taking care of our nursing homes residents who rely on Medicaid, but they’re also going to get staff who are better trained in Alzheimer’s,” said Nico Gomez with Care Providers Oklahoma. “The overall impact could be closer to $100 million once we are all said and done.”

That includes federal matches for state dollars.

Gomez says six of the state’s nursing homes were forced to close in the past 18 months. 

“The regulations continue to increase every year and the cost of doing business continues to increase each year,” said Gomez.

“The numbers I’ve seen on those are a little misleading,” Senator Greg Treat (R) President Pro Tempore said. “Not all the closures have been related directly to the funding from Medicaid.  But you always want to make sure there’s access to long term care.”

Treat says the state wants to give more to nursing homes, but right now a lot of agencies have their hands out, and the pie is just so big.

“Those details will be worked out as we go through the budgeting process,” said Treat.

Gomez insists there is a solution.

 “We actually have one here. It does have a price tag, and now it’s a matter of budget writers being able to say yes we can afford this investment in our seniors,” said Gomez.

Gomez says right now nearly 70 people in nursing care rely on Medicaid. He says if the state offers more funding, those people can keep more of their own money and have a better quality of life.