July | August 2014


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Massachusetts Nursing Homes Call
for Increase in Medicaid Reimbursements

Medicaid reimbursements are insufficient to cover the costs of the Bay State’s nursing home residents, according to the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, an organization representing the state’s nursing home operators. In the past 10 years, more than 50 Massachusetts nursing homes have closed their doors, citing Medicaid reimbursement rates that have failed to keep up with the cost of care, The Boston Globe reported in May.
According to the American Health Care Association, the cost of care for residents of senior care facilities exceeded Medicaid reimbursements by nearly $8 billion nationally. For Massachusetts’ nursing homes, that means a loss of $350 million—approximately $37 per day per patient.
Some nursing home operators claim they simply cannot keep up and have called for the state to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for the first time in nearly a decade. Some state officials counter, however, that fewer people are using nursing homes—looking, instead, to in-home and other caregiving arrangements—and therefore increases in state funds for Medicaid reimbursements are unnecessary.
Madeleine Biondolillo, associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, reported the state has nearly 5,000 empty nursing home beds. Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed nearly $21 million in cuts to state Medicaid spending for nursing homes.
Some state legislators, however, argue an increase to state Medicaid funds for nursing homes is critical to keep nursing homes open to individuals and the communities they serve. “It’s very hard to live on 2005 rates in 2014,” said Sen. Harriette L. Chandler of Worcester. Chandler has proposed legislation that would increase funding for Medicaid reimbursements, while also creating training and career programming for nursing home employees.
 
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John P. deJongh in May signed into law the “Feed-in Tariff” bill, which is designed to promote the use of alternative energy. The law will allow third party entities to develop small to mid-size renewable energy generators, The Virgin Islands Daily News reported. In signing the bill, deJongh warned additional time for power purchase agreements and increased funding for Public Service Commission oversight are needed.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS
Maryland has joined a handful of states that extend anti-discrimination laws to transgender individuals. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the state’s transgender rights legislation into law in May, according to The Baltimore Sun. The new law prohibits discrimination against transgender people in employment and housing.

GAS TAX INCREASE
New Hampshire residents will pay more for gas following the first increase in gas taxes in 23 years, WMUR News of Manchester, N.H., reported in May. Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the tax increase into law; it will take effect July 1. The tax hike is estimated to raise $30 million annually, which will be used to fund the maintenance of the state’s red-listed bridges and roadways.

PENSION PAYMENTS
Payments to the pension fund for New Jersey’s public workers may be reduced as part of Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to balance the state’s budget. According to NJ.com, the governor’s plan reallocates $2.43 billion in budgeted payments to public workers’ pension fund over a two-year period to cover more than $2 billion in budget shortfalls for the current and upcoming fiscal years.

CASINO REVENUES
Pennsylvania’s casino revenues have leveled off eight years after the gambling industry was introduced in the Keystone state. The Pocono Record reports the saturation of casinos in Pennsylvania, combined with the development of new casinos in surrounding states, has resulted in stagnated gambling revenues. All but one of the state’s dozen casinos reported a decline in 2013 profits. Some policymakers are considering proposals to add Internet gambling in an effort to boost revenues.
 
 
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