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Archives: KHI News Service

On January 1, 2017, the KHI News Service became part of KCUR public radio’s new initiative, the Kansas News Service. The Kansas News Service will continue to cover health policy news and broaden its scope to include education and politics. All stories produced by the former KHI News Service are archived here. Stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to KHI.org.

Nursing home group: Facilities will close without bed tax increase

Group that advocates for residents calls for state oversight of funds

By Andy Marso | March 08, 2016

The leader of a group that represents Kansas nursing homes told state senators Tuesday that facilities will have to close if a bed tax increase doesn’t pass.

Cindy Luxem, executive director of the Kansas Health Care Association that represents for-profit nursing homes, told members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee that it’s critical to pass Senate Bill 457.

Photo by Megan Hart/KHI News Service Sen. Laura Kelly, a Democrat from Topeka, and other members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee hear testimony Tuesday on a bill that would increase and extend a “bed tax” on nursing homes and use the proceeds to draw down more federal Medicaid funds.

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The bill would increase a “bed tax” on nursing homes and use the proceeds to draw down more federal Medicaid funds, which would go back to the nursing homes in the form of payments for services provided to residents on Medicaid.

Advocates for nursing home residents want future bed tax payments tied to quality improvement measures.

When Sen. Laura Kelly, a Democrat from Topeka, asked about that, Luxem said it was secondary to the fiscal urgency of the situation.

“If we don’t have the money, senator, it doesn’t matter about quality,” Luxem said. “Because we will have to shutter our doors.”

Nursing homes throughout the state have felt a financial pinch as a computer system switch delays thousands of Kansas Medicaid applications.

LeadingAge Kansas, which represents nonprofit nursing facilities, joined Luxem’s group in telling senators that the federal money from the bed tax is crucial.

The tax is set at $1,950 per licensed bed in skilled nursing facilities. Without any legislative action, that tax will end July 1.

If the Legislature passes SB 457, the tax would be extended for four years and increased to $4,908 per bed, drawing down an estimated $70 million in federal dollars to boost nursing homes’ Medicaid reimbursement rates.

The bed tax was enacted in 2010, over the objections of some facilities with more private-pay residents that still have to pay the bed tax but don’t see the benefit of higher Medicaid payments.

Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, told senators that from the beginning the intention was for nursing homes to use the extra Medicaid money to increase the quality of the care they provide.

But there’s been little oversight of the $120 million over the last five years.

“No state agency has audited the nursing homes’ use of that money,” McFatrich said.

She said her organization, which represents nursing home residents and their families, has tried to determine if quality has increased using two metrics: inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs on residents with dementia and annual health inspection surveys.

“No state agency has audited the nursing homes’ use of that money.”

- Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care

McFatrich said Kansas ranks among the worst states when it comes to antipsychotic use, and 219 of the state’s 342 facilities had deficiencies on their health inspections that recurred each year over the last four years.

The results show that nursing home quality is not improving, she said.

“They aren’t keeping that promise to older adults or to taxpayers,” McFatrich said.

She said that if legislators amended the bill to tie bed tax payments to a minimum of 4.5 hours of skilled nursing care daily per resident, it would save the state money by providing better health outcomes among residents.