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2017-02-24 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

February 24, 2017  RSS feed
Senior Living

Text: T T T

Menorah Manor dodges $1 million cut when lawmaker axes plans to change funding

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

Since January, staff members at Menorah Manor have lived under the threat of losing about $1 million in funding for the agency’s Marion and Bernard L. Samson Nursing Center – and contemplating the dire consequences of such a loss. But on Wednesday evening, Feb. 22, the threat evaporated – at least this year.

“I have never been so happy as to get the call we got yesterday,” said Judy Ludin, chief development and community relations officer for Menorah Manor.

The gist of the call was that state Rep. Jason Brodeur, chairman of the House Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee, had just announced that the House will not pursue adoption of the proposed nursing home Medicaid funding changes in this legislative session.

In January a consulting firm, Navigant, received a $500,000 contract to devise a plan to restructure how the Agency for Health Care Administration distributes Medicaid funding among the state’s nursing homes.

Had the proposal gone into effect, it “would shift a total of $109 million from high-quality nursing homes to lower quality nursing homes (including a cut of about $1 million for the Samson Nursing Center, which has a 4-star quality rating),” said Steve Bahmer, president and CEO of LeadngAge Floirida, a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for seniors.

Both Bahmer and Rob Goldstein, CEO of Menorah Manor, have worked since the plan came out to rally opposition to it, and both recently testified before the House subcommittee, maintaining three key points:

• The plan penalizes high quality nursing homes – those with 4- or 5-star ratings for quality of services – by shifting funds from them to lower quality nursing homes with 1- and 2-star ratings.

• The plan also had no requirement that the lower quality nursing homes spend the additional money on proving better service.

• The plan did not mandate that the poorer quality nursing homes had to improve care for their residents.

As the region’s only nursing home providing care in a Jewish environment, Goldstein said for 31 years Menorah Manor has worked hard to provide high quality service. Menorah Manor also operates two assisted living facilities, but those would not have been affected by the funding changes.

If the nursing center had lost the $1 million in funding, the results would have been devastating, likely requiring cuts to the number of beds the facility offers to its neediest residents – those who rely on Medicaid funds to pay for their room and board, Goldstein said. He noted that 65 percent of the 180 beds at the Samson center are part of what they term their “Medicaid census.”

In his testimony to the state House Healthcare Appropriations Subcommittee, he feared the proposal would result in having to “tell nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, activity staff, housekeepers, dietary staff, and even paid medical staff that their hours have just been reduced or perhaps their jobs eliminated; staff that have had a career at Menorah Manor with significant longevity.”

“This is a tremendous success,” Goldstein said of the decision to drop the plan. “A strong and loud message was heard that high quality providers like Menorah Manor will not support poor public policy that undermines our ability to care for seniors in our community.”

The news prompted Menorah Manor and LeadingAge to cancel a press conference they had planned for on Tuesday, Feb. 28 to rally support against the funding change.


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