MADISON- An analysis of the nation’s Medicaid skilled nursing facility payment systems released last week has ranked Wisconsin the second-worst state in the country behind only New York. Wisconsin was rated third-worst in the same study released last year.
The independent study, conducted by Eljay, LLP, a national accounting and consulting firm, found that Medicaid losses (the difference between Medicaid costs incurred and reimbursement received) suffered by Wisconsin facilities were $35.99 per Medicaid patient per day, nearly 75 percent higher than the national average of $21.20. With the proposed 2015-17 Biennial Budget failing to include a Medicaid rate increase for nursing facilities, this will mean even greater funding disparities between the national average and Medicaid reimbursement for Wisconsin’s skilled nursing care.
“This consistent underfunding of the Medicaid program presents significant problems for Wisconsin’s long-term care provider community, which provides round-the-clock care for our state’s most frail and elderly population,” said Tom Moore, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Health Care Association (WHCA). “The historical flaws and failings of the Medicaid payment system severely limits the ability of nursing facilities to pay frontline caregivers competitive wages. As members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance continue their deliberations on the State Budget, Wisconsin’s long-term care providers want Legislators to understand the implications of this chronic underfunding.”
The study found that Wisconsin’s Medicaid program on average will only pay a nursing facility $0.82 for every dollar of cost they incur in providing care to their resident, which is woefully short of the national average of 89.7 cents on the dollar.
“No one ever has accused a Wisconsin nursing home of being overstaffed or its caregivers overpaid. While Wal-Mart just announced its full-time workers soon will make $13/hour, the average Wisconsin nurse aide, the primary caregiver in nursing homes, earn $12.94/hour to care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said John Sauer, President/CEO of LeadingAge Wisconsin. “How can we continue to provide quality care to our frail elderly and persons with a disability when we barely can provide a competitive/living wage to those who provide that care?”