LeadingAge PA Members, Seniors, and Lawmakers Call for Medicaid Rate Increases in 2024-25 PA Budget to Address Access to Care Crisis

June 4, 2024

HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 4, 2024) – Today, LeadingAge PA, along with its aging services provider members and residents, convened at the state Capitol to advocate for critically needed Medicaid rate increases for nursing homes and Living Independence for the Elderly Life (LIFE) providers in the upcoming 2024-25 state budget.

Skilled Nursing Facilities, commonly known as nursing homes, play an essential role in the healthcare ecosystem, serving tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians. However, their continued underfunding has made closures and sales a harsh reality for Pennsylvania families who need high-quality care for their loved ones. In fact, over the past four years, 25 nursing homes closed, and 2,588 beds have been decertified due to the current funding and workforce crisis, leaving only about 85,000 beds left in a state where over 2.2 million Pennsylvanians are 65 and over.

Meanwhile, just as vital to the state, Pennsylvania’s Living Independence for the Elderly Life (LIFE) program has been underfunded and forgotten, going without a substantial rate increase for over a decade despite facing staffing challenges and funding pressures as well.

LeadingAge PA is advocating for a $70 million investment in nursing homes to ensure that older Pennsylvanians have continued access to care and to help nursing homes meet increasing staffing requirements. They are also requesting a minimum of $8.9 million plus inflation for LIFE providers to address the significant funding gap they are facing.

“Our senior care providers are facing an uphill battle, and it’s time for all of us to join forces to halt this trend of closures and beds left empty,” said LeadingAge PA Board Chair Vicki Loucks, COO of Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare. “Without proper Medicaid funding, we cannot compete against other employers, which creates a sad reality that it’s more cost-effective not to fill a bed. This is why we need support from those in state government – we need a reasonable Medicaid increase in this budget cycle, or more seniors will lose access to the high-quality care and services they deserve.”

According to a LeadingAge PA member survey, despite having licensed beds available, nearly half (48%) have declined hospital referrals within the last two to three months due to staffing challenges and underfunding linked to insufficient Medicaid reimbursement rates.

“In just one month, nursing homes in Pennsylvania will be required to meet staffing ratios that are insufficiently funded,” said LeadingAge PA President and CEO Garry Pezzano. “Today is about responding to the crisis that jeopardizes access to care for older Pennsylvanians and insisting that $70 million for nursing homes and at least $8.9 million for LIFE programs be included in the upcoming state budget. We stand ready to work with the PA General Assembly, the Shapiro administration and other stakeholders to make sure older adults have access to the care they want, need, and deserve. Without funding, there is no workforce; without workforce, there is no care.”

*Editor’s Note: Read “Our Faces. Our Stories.” a unique look inside the challenges the 50,000 dedicated caregiving professionals encounter while working with more than 75,000 older Pennsylvanians in their care.

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About LeadingAge PA

LeadingAge PA is a t trade association representing 370+ high-quality senior housing, health care, and community services across the Commonwealth. These providers serve more than 75,000 older Pennsylvanians and employ over 50,000 dedicated caregivers on a daily basis. Services our members offer include Life Plan Communities/Continuing Care Retirement Communities, skilled nursing communities, assisted living residences, personal care homes, and affordable senior housing. LeadingAge PA advocates on behalf of our members at the state and local levels to influence positive change and affect a healthy vision for the delivery of quality, affordable and ethical care for Pennsylvania’s seniors. For more information, visit www.LeadingAgePA.org.

Contact: Jill Gingrich, email: jill@latorrecommunications.com, text: 717-991-1442