Time Running Out for Legislature to Solve Senior Care Crisis

Time is running out for Texas lawmakers to solve the state’s growing senior care crisis before the current legislative session ends.

Without a resolution, leaders of the nursing home sector say things will only get worse.

The industry points to the 2018 bankruptcy of the state’s largest nursing home operator and the exit from Texas during the same year of one of the largest providers in the country as signs of things to come unless action is taken during the legislative session. According to reports, 25% of Texas nursing homes are operating at financial levels that put them at risk of closure.

“My fear is that we’re going to see more bankruptcies and facility closures,” said Kevin Warren, CEO of the Texas Health Care Association. “The crisis is not almost here, it’s here now. What does this crisis have to look like before senior care is a priority as well?”

Industry leaders also point to staggering workforce turnover rates resulting from their inability to offer competitive wages. The average caregiver turnover rate in Texas nursing homes exceeds 90% as staff leave for better wages and easier jobs at convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.

National quality data by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reflects years of chronic underfunding by the state. According to CMS Nursing Home Compare, Texas has more one- and two-star nursing homes than any other state in the country.

Warren says it’s been almost two decades since there was a significant increase in the amount the state pays nursing homes for Medicaid patients, and the consequences are starting to be seen.

Warren continued, “With an approaching wave of aging baby boomers who will need nursing home care and a workforce crisis that’s affecting the care we can provide, when do we address our state’s senior care challenges? If not now, when?”

More than 70% of facilities say state payments do not cover the daily cost of a resident’s care.

Nursing home leaders, family members of residents and other advocates are continuing to work for a solution, asking state leaders not to adjourn the legislative session without taking action.