THCA CEO Testifies Before House Human Services Committee
For Immediate Release Contact: Rebecca Reid
December 15, 2015 410-212-3843
THCA CEO Testifies Before House Human Services Committee On the Increasing Population of Aging Texans and the Impact On Long Term Care Providers’ Ability to Adequately Care for Seniors
Long Term Care Leader Cautions High Workforce Turnover, Low Wages Will Further Diminish the Future Pool of Employees in Long Term Care
(Austin, TX) – The President and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association (THCA) testified today before the House Human Services Committee, noting that while baby boomers caring for elderly patients are aging themselves and will soon be in need of assistance for their own care, the pool of potential staff for direct caregiving in nursing homes remains limited and inconsistent, thus perpetuating ongoing challenges for long term care providers.
“Nursing facilities throughout Texas are struggling to recruit and retain quality staff with limited resources available in a Medicaid-reliant sector,” testified Kevin Warren, CEO of the THCA. “Our provider members tell us that staff turnover is one of the biggest problems they face. They cannot pay dependable, dedicated nurses and nurse assistants their true value, so many quality employees leave the long term care setting for better paying jobs.”
The House committee met today to consider Interim Charge 1: a study of the ten year anticipated growth, the geographic distribution, and the projected economic impact of aging Texans. The hearing will facilitate a review of state services and programs available to seniors, including independent living services, and determine the capacity and effectiveness of the programs, as well as discuss whether Texas is prepared for the increased demands of aging Texans.
“We are seeing warning signs that the stress of delivering quality care is driving quality caregivers out of the profession,” Warren continued. “The caregivers who work in nursing homes are seeing patients with higher levels of acuity, especially with the growth of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. They also find themselves spending more time on meeting extensive and sometimes duplicative state and federal regulations—time taken away from resident care.”
Warren also pointed out that a survey of THCA membership earlier this year indicated the top three challenges to improving staff retention are:
- A lack of available workforce pool in the community
- Wage competition with other healthcare sections; and
- A lack of local available training programs for LVNs and RNs
Moreover, he said, “In March, providers must navigate the new landscape brought about by the rollout of Medicaid Managed Care for residents. HHSC has been very responsive and helpful when problems have arisen but it still adds to the uncertainty for facilities trying to stay above water.”
To address the greatest challenges facing long term care providers, Warren recommended the following:
- Invest in the assurance that a capable and sufficient workforce is available for both current and future demand.
- Ensure patient access continues under managed care by making permanent the protections provided under SB 7 in the 83rd Legislature. Nursing facilities that meet the requirements for Medicaid licensure should remain an option for all residents.
- Consider adopting a needs based assessment before allocating new Medicaid beds for all new facility construction.
- Reform the process by which the state regulates nursing homes to be more equitable and predictable while still ensuring that seniors are protected.
In closing, Warren noted, “The challenges of providing quality long term care to a rapidly growing population of elderly Texans is not one that will be easily solved. It requires diligence, imagination and the collaboration of stakeholders and state leaders and a continuous effort. THCA providers serve those who have worked to make Texas great by raising good families, developing businesses that generate jobs and build on a healthy economy, educating our children, and defending our freedoms. They met the challenges of the past to give us the lives we now enjoy. Now, it is our turn to meet these challenges and make their lives better.”
# # #
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.