How a program for the poor pushes Americans into poor-quality facilities.
By Stephen A. Moses and Brian C. Blase | June 1, 2020 7:13 pm ET
With increased focus on the huge number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, long-term care expert Steve Moses and Galen Senior Fellow Brian Blase write that federal payment policies are partly to blame for the low quality of care in many facilities.
“Care for 62% of nursing-home residents is paid at least in part by Medicaid,” they write. “Policy makers sought to control costs and limit access by paying notoriously low rates. This dragged down the quality of care for Medicaid recipients and private payers alike.”
Historically low payment rates mean nursing homes struggle to retain quality staff. Lax Medicaid rules mean millions more Americans, including affluent middle-income seniors, can qualify for Medicaid, further straining resources for a program designed for the poor and vulnerable.
“More than five decades of easy access to Medicaid-subsidized nursing-home care anesthetized consumers to the risk and cost of long-term care. Few properly prepare,” Moses and Blase write.
“Once people need long-term care, the path of least resistance is to qualify for Medicaid and take whatever it offers—usually care in nursing homes that are too heavily dependent on the program to provide high-quality care.
“That’s why so many frail elderly people are trapped in low-quality nursing homes and vulnerable to the ravages of Covid-19…”