MHCA Joins Partners in a Call to Action for Supporting Long Term Care

On January 3rd, the first day of the new legislative session, MHCA joined LTCOP, North Country Associates, and MaineHealth to discuss the concerning rate of nursing home closures and the need for further legislative action to address this trend. 
Since 2014, 23 nursing homes have closed across the state. In light of the latest closure announcement, Hancock County will have zero nursing homes. Half of Washington County's nursing homes have closed since 2014. These closures are occurring rapidly despite Maine being the oldest state in the country and already having the fewest skilled nursing home beds per 1,000 residents in the entire northeastern United States. Now is not the time to lose more nursing homes. 
Long term care facilities are not fully compensated for the cost of care to MaineCare residents, who are approximately two thirds of nursing homes' occupancy. Based on the latest data, on average, a nursing home loses roughly $40 per day per MaineCare resident. Unfortunately, the gap between the cost and state payment is only increasing over time. In aggregate, from 2012 to 2022, MaineCare's reimbursement shortfall increased from approximately $28 million to $43 million per year. Based on as-filed 2022 cost reports, the estimated shortfall is $96.5 million without one-time supplemental payments. Nursing homes will continue to close until this is resolved.
Nursing home closures, especially closures in rural parts of the state, mean long term care residents and their family members lose access to quality, accessible care. Continued closures will restrict access to long term care and leave future generations of older adults and their families with longer waits and having to search for nursing home care farther from loved ones. Additionally, the limited number of nursing homes already impacts the entire health care continuum. Over a hundred patients are occupying limited hospital beds and waiting for an opening to relocate to a nursing home.
Brenda Gallant, LTCOP Executive Director said, “In recent years, facility closures have reached a critical level. Ombudsman Program staff face these closures with great concern for residents. Transfer or relocation trauma is a real problem that can occur having serious negative impact on residents who may suffer from depression, agitation, increased falls, weight loss, and in some cases, mortality.  Additionally, as more facilities are closing, it becomes more and more difficult to find admission to another facility close to home.”
Angela Cole Westhoff, Maine Health Care Association President & CEO added, "With our aging population and a cascade of nursing home closures, we stand at a critical juncture. The closure of these vital facilities not only deprives our older adults of quality care but also ripples through our healthcare system, burdening hospitals and leaving families grappling with the hardship of relocation. We seek to collaborate with legislators during this session to bridge the financial gap, preserve access to long term care, and safeguard the well-being of our seniors."

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