Aug 2, 2011 3:06 PM by Brittany Wooley- KTVQ News

Governor announces change to assisted-living Medicaid rate cuts

BILLINGS- Some good news for assisted-living centers in Montana.

Cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates will not be as steep as previously proposed.

Governor Brian Schweitzer has announced that rates will be cut two-percent, rather than the 10-percent that was set at the end of the legislative session.

The cuts are a result of a one-time increase in 2009 that was not reinstated.

Governor Schweitzer says when he learned that assisted-living facilities faced a 10-percent cut while other Medicaid providers, including home care agencies, hospitals, and mental health centers only faced a two-percent cut, he looked for ways to reallocate funds.

The decrease in cuts has allowed Primrose Assisted Living in Billings to hang on to a resident they planned to evict, but owner, Cindy Johnson, says a two-percent cut is still too much.

"I will no longer accept Medicaid transitioning out of nursing homes. I will no longer accept Medicaid from the public. I will try to allow people who are already living here to remain in place on Medicaid, but I will have to do what other places do which is limit how many Medicaid clients we can afford to accept," Johnson said.

About 800 elderly and disabled people in Montana are in assisted-living homes on the Medicaid waiver program.

JULY 14, 2011

BILLINGS- Assisted living centers across Montana face cuts to the amount of reimbursement they will receive from Medicaid.

At least one assisted living center in Billings has issued its first eviction notice to a resident.

Primrose Assisted Living Care in Billings told a Korean War veteran Tuesday that he will be forced to move out in 30 days unless the Governor finds a way to redistribute funds.

While this is the first eviction for Primrose, it won't be the last for assisted living centers across the state.

About 800 elderly and disabled people in Montana are in assisted living homes on the Medicaid waiver program.

"Nobody wants to kick any of these people out, but we can't afford to provide care for them at $65 a day. These people are not going to vanish just because their funding vanished," Primrose Assisted Living Care owner Cindy Johnson said.

Medicaid rate cuts to hospitals, mental health centers, and group homes are set to take effect on August 1st, but none are as steep as the cuts faced by those in assisted living.

Most providers will see a two-percent rate cut after the Legislature decided not to reinstate a one time increase put in place in 2009.

But, assisted living providers face a 10-percent cut, which hits especially hard since serving Medicaid residents already comes at a cost.

"I'm subsidizing about $1000 a month for everyone who lives here on Medicaid, and to expect me to subsidize further and accept people at this kind of rate is impossible. I would go broke trying to do it," Johnson said.

According to Johnson, those evicted from assisted living centers will likely be placed in nursing homes, which have higher Medicaid rates and will end up costing the state and federal governments more.

Supporters of the cuts say they are trying to be consistent across the board in which funding increases are reinstated.


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