Texas Legislative and Public Affairs Update





Healthcare Funding Update

The halfway point of the Texas Legislative Session was Monday – meaning we have less than 70 days left until the legislature leaves Austin and we have closure on key healthcare policy and budget proposals.

Healthcare Budget Proceedings Update

The legislature passed the supplemental appropriations bill, which will continue funding nursing homes through the end of this current biennium (August 31, 2013). Without this emergency appropriations bill, state funding for nursing homes would have run short this month. While the appropriations numbers are overwhelming, of note to Senior Care Centers and our industry is that a little more than $1 billion was appropriated to the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) for the purpose of providing long-term care services under the Medicaid program.

While the supplemental appropriations was critical, our goal is to secure another $900 million to meet the costs of providing nursing home care in Texas.

The Senate passed its version of the budget for the next biennium this week. We (and the nursing home industry at large) believe the Senate budget shortchanges nursing home facilities by $327 million in state funds, meaning the loss of more than $600 million in federal matching funds.

The House budget should be on the floor in early April. Once the House version of the budget is approved the budget will go to a conference committee made up of House and Senate members – where funding issues will be hashed out – including funding for nursing homes. We will need your help to contact members of the conference committee. Stay tuned for more information on this.

New TX Nursing Home Survey: Medicaid and Medicare Cuts Threaten Direct Care Staff Layoffs, Deferred Tech Investment, Possible Facility Closures

A recent survey of Texas nursing homes by the Texas Health Care Association finds that the series of state and federal funding cuts to seniors’ skilled nursing facility (SNF) care is creating a dangerous strain on facilities’ ability to care for growing numbers of older, more medically complex patients. Survey responses of note:

As a result of the continuing budget chaos in Washington regarding Medicare coupled with ongoing state Medicaid underfunding, have you:

  • Made any staff changes? 65.9% report yes
  • Reduced staff hours, wages and/or benefits? 72.5% report yes
  • Cancelled or postponed facility improvements? 60.0% report yes

Looking ahead, what actions may you be forced to consider in 2013?:

  • 84.3% of facilities may have to freeze wages
  • 81.8% may have to defer facility expansions or renovations
  • 78.4% may have to defer investment in new technology, therapy equipment
  • 75% may have to defer, reduce or change staff benefits
  • 31.1% may have to lay off direct care staff
  • 18.4% may be forced to consider actually closing their facility

Learn more.

General Bill Filing Stats

The bill filing deadline was Friday, March 8. The final tally of total bills filed between the first day of pre-filing and the bill filing deadline was 5,853 bills, which is pretty much inline with recent sessions (except for 2009 which had a large influx of bills):

  • 5,853 (83rd)
  • 5,873 (82nd)
  • 7,324 (81st)
  • 6,362 (80th)

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