LAWTON, OK (TNN) - A bill focusing on nursing home quality assurance passed through the Oklahoma House Tuesday.
If it becomes law, it will provide additional Cost of Care Medicaid funding.
Nursing home administrators said they have been underfunded by Mediciad for many years, and has that has negatively affected many of their daily operations.
If the bill becomes law, they say the increased funding will help increase staff, provide vital training and improve care overall.
According to the Nursing Home Quality Assurance Initiative, Oklahoma ranks 48th in quality of life among Nursing Home residents. Elk Crossing’s nursing home owner Jeff Gregston explained that fixing these problems are a priority for them, but it’s hard when they don’t have enough money,
Gregston said “We keep having to do it with less and less and the federal laws keep going up. With no funding, we’ve had to really be on top of our game and diversify ourselves to survive. Medicare is our big money maker as far as offsetting the Medicaid pay rate. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t survive at all.”
Because of the low imbursement rates from the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority, Gregston said on average, nursing homes have 23 dollars less per day than they need. He said that makes it difficult to keep the same staff, and typically they are the reason quality care exists in the first place.
Lucretia Parkey, the Administrator at Willow Par said, “If staffing turns over a lot because you can’t pay them quite as much then it makes it harder on our residents because we do assigned staffing.”
“The biggest key is the turnover. If we can pay the people to where they can stay at a job for a year or two. They get o know our system, get to know the patients, it obviously comes out that you are going to have better care,” said Gregston.
Care that would include improving outcomes and rankings focused on pressure ulcers, urinary tract infections, use of antipsychotic medications and weight loss among the residents.
Gregston said this bill has been in the works for sometime, but they had to get long term care stakeholders on board.
“It’s been a lot of work to address all their issues, and things they wanted, things they thought were important. We’ve done really well to get all that into it," said Gregston.
Some of the long-term care stakeholders include organizations like AARP, the Oklahoma Alliance on Aging, and the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s association. The bill now moves on to the senate, and because it was passed today with Emergency, it would be implemented as soon as it was signed by Governor Stitt.