To The Daily Sun,
I want to thank the Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator, Matthew Logue, and Dianne Roberts, director of Nursing Services, for giving me a recent tour of the county nursing home to visit the staff, residents and the overall facility. This facility, like all county nursing homes, statewide, are important to our citizens and loved ones who receive long term care from a committed and devoted staff. New Hampshire has always done a great job in taking care of its aging population.
The governor and Legislature are in the midst of another difficult budget year and are working hard to meet the needs of the State of New Hampshire and its citizens. A lot of the long-term care and financing strategies involving the counties for services are provided through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (BEAS). Long-term care services in DHHS are paid out of four appropriations: Nursing Services, Mid Level, Home Care and Home Health.
There has been a lot of discussion on the implementation of the Step II of Medicaid Care Management (MCM) and the explanation of the push back date of July 1, 2016. It is safe to say whatever that date is, the roll out of the MCM program for our aging population needs to ready for prime time for everyone involved.
In addition, there was some initial confusion about Proshare payment and county nursing home administrators were concerned about the payment. There may have been some earlier discussion about bringing nursing home services into the MCM program, previously scheduled for Sept. 1, 2015. In the future, when nursing home services are brought into the MCM program, the three nursing home payments (per diem payments, MQIP payments, and Proshare payments) will consolidated into one payment.
A major concern of the county nursing home administrators has been the determination and carry forward of additional home rates in SFY 2015. At the end of SFY 2014, and before complying with the mandated appropriation reduction, there was nominally $4.9 million in total funds (representing $2.45 million in general funds) in the nursing home account.
Historically, DHHS has adjusted rates in January for any surpluses, although, it's not required by law to do so. DHHS made a decision in order to resolve its $58 million dollar deficit in the SFY 15 budget, it decided that using unexpended funds in the nursing and home care accounts to achieve a $7 million general fund appropriation reduction mandated by legislature in the current SFY 14-15 budget which contributes to the $58 million deficit that the Department must resolve.
State Sen. Jeanie Forrester of Meredith brought SB-8 to stop the governor from raiding $7 million from the nursing homes and home health care agencies. SB-8 passed overwhelmingly out of the Senate with a bipartisan vote and now will be heard in the House. This is a positive step in the right direction to restore funding for long-term care.
As the legislative process continues to move forward there will be many tough choices along the way to be made but at the end of the day I am confident we will meet the needs of the State of New Hampshire and its citizens.
I will continue to monitor these important issues as I travel around the District to listen to your concerns. Please feel free to call me at anytime (603) 271-3632.
Joseph D. Kenney
Executive Councilor District 1
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