At the State House: As the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget debate continues, AARP is urging lawmakers to protect services for older residents in need, including the nursing home bed hold, which saves a nursing home resident’s bed during a short-term leave of absence. The status of this important program has been dizzying: during the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget debate, it was cut, restored in a supplemental budget, vetoed by Gov. Deval Patrick, and then reinstated after legislators worked with the Administration to provide $6 million in funding.
This year, the bed hold was not included in either the Governor’s budget proposal, or the House budget. The Senate will debate its version of the budget in May, followed by a House-Senate conference committee, a full vote by the House and Senate, and signature or veto by Gov. Patrick. The Fiscal Year 2013 state budget goes into effect on July 1, 2013.
“Vulnerable nursing home residents were a scapegoat in last year’s budget debate – when the nursing home bed hold was eliminated, funded, eliminated again, and ultimately funded,” said William Johnston-Walsh, state director, AARP Massachusetts. “This type of political ping pong match takes a toll on our state’s most vulnerable seniors and their families – and that’s just not right.”
What is the nursing home bed hold?
The nursing home bed hold program has been in existence for more than a decade. It pays nursing homes to reserve a resident’s bed for up to 10 days in case of a temporary absence, such as hospitalization.
The state and federal government split the cost of the program. According to the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, Medicaid pays nursing homes an average of $200 a day per patient, which stops when the patient is away. The bed hold program pays a lower rate of $80 a day for nursing homes to hold a patient’s room for up to 10 days.
Federal law requires nursing home residents to readmit a resident after a temporary leave to the first available bed in a shared room, but it does not guarantee the same room or bed as before.
Why is AARP fighting to protect the nursing home bed hold?
For a vulnerable nursing home resident, losing their bed in their nursing home can feel more like an eviction than a room transfer. And, it can cause residents to suffer medical and psychological harm from such an upheaval.
Family caregivers must be confident that hospitalizations or a family visit for a nursing home resident will not cost that vulnerable elder their bed in their home. Simply providing them with the next available nursing home bed is not good enough.
Today, many nursing home residents are suffering with dementia. For these residents, the prospect of facing a new bed, a new room, and new caregivers each time they return from a brief leave can be especially confusing – and ultimately put that resident’s health at risk.
AARP believes the commonwealth must step up and protect our most frail and vulnerable seniors. We urge lawmakers to govern with compassion and reinstate the nursing home bed hold. Join us – please take action today, call 1-888-259-9789, and tell your legislator to include the nursing home bed hold in the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget.