Long Term Care Frontline Nurses Urge Legislators to Help Advance Quality Improvements
For Immediate Release
March 26, 2015
Contact: Rebecca Reid
Long Term Care Frontline Nurses Urge Legislators to Help Advance Quality Improvements and Fully Fund Medicaid Rate for Vulnerable Elderly
(AUSTIN, TX) – Frontline caregivers in nursing homes across the state met at the Capitol today with lawmakers who will determine whether or not the Medicaid rate for skilled nursing care will be fully funded for 2016-2017. State estimates indicate the current Medicaid rate for long term care is underfunded by $343 million.
“We are the nurses and nurse assistants who provide skilled nursing care to frail seniors twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and we are also serving as their voice here today in Austin,” said Robin J. Hayes, a R.N. with Touchstone Communities and Chair of the Nurse’s Council for the Texas Health Care Association (THCA). “Low wages and the challenge of attracting a dedicated, caring qualified employee pool puts a strain on those caregivers who have made caring for the elderly not only a career, but a mission. Adequate resources for skilled nursing care are key to improving quality. Texas’ Medicaid rate has been underfunded for decades and that is a trend that has to change.”
Sponsored by THCA’s Nurse Council, Nurses’ Commitment to Care Day brought nursing home administrators, nurses, and other frontline nursing staff to Austin to advocate for policy supporting a healthy long term care sector in Texas. The long term caregiver staff underscored statistics that indicate an urgent need for resources to help build a robust nursing home workforce, renovate and upgrade facilities, install state of the art technology, and provide ongoing education and training that reflects that latest strategies in quality care improvement. 3.2 million Texans are currently over the age of 65 – a number that is expected to grow to 7.5 million by 2040. Similarly, the percentage of people ages 85 and older is expected to double over the same span.
Last month, the THCA announced the Commitment to Care, a unified effort among Texas nursing homes to enhance the delivery of long-term care by increasing focus on improving clinical outcomes, developing strategies to attract and retain a stable workforce, collaborating with senior care advocates, improving survey performance results, and promoting sound health policy that facilitates providers’ ability to elevate care performance.
“We appreciate the opportunity to convey first-hand to lawmakers our caregiving experiences and what it takes to increase positive patient outcomes, elevate quality of life, and ensure Texas becomes a national leader in long term care,” said Hayes. “Long term care nurses have made our commitment to care for the most vulnerable in our state. We respectfully urge our legislators to help us bring consistency and continuity to the long term care setting and fully fund the Medicaid rate for the frail elderly.”
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Founded in 1950, the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) is the largest long-term care association in Texas. THCA’s membership is comprised of several hundred licensed non-profit and for-profit skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), specialized rehabilitation facilities and assisted living facilities in Texas. These facilities provide comprehensive, around-the-clock nursing care for chronically ill or short-term residents of all ages, along with rehabilitative and specialized medical programs. THCA also represents more than 190 long-term care businesses that provide products and services to the state’s approximately 2,850 nursing homes and assisted living facilities. To learn more, visit http://txhca.org/ or connect with THCA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.