A lack of federal funding for elderly healthcare could cause a nursing home abuse epidemic in San Clemente and across the country, a recent article in The New York Times suggests. While a vote on the Senate health care bill has been delayed, even an amended version of the bill that includes drastic cuts to Medicaid could have serious and even deadly consequences for seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. As the article contends, if such a bill passes, introducing “Trumpcare” to California and to the rest of the country, it “is certain to produce drastic upheaval in the landscape of long-term care.” Medicaid is currently “by far the largest source of funding for nursing home stays,” providing the funding for almost two-thirds of all nursing home residents.
If funding ceases, the quality of care is likely to decline, as well. Such a cut to Medicaid would result, at best, in a rise in nursing home neglect cases, the article argues. Could changes to Medicaid funding really produce such damage to elderly nursing home residents’ care?
History of California Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The article provides a background on the recent history of nursing home abuse and neglect in the 1970s when Medicaid was not providing the funding it currently offers to seniors in long-term care facilities. Approximately four decades ago, “a wave of institutional abuse swept through long-term care facilities in the 1970s,” according to the article. Nursing homes in California and numerous other states made national news due to “abuse scandals and investigations.” At this point in time, elder abuse and neglect had become a systemic problem in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, and much of it resulted from a lack of funding. Where funding is limited, nursing home neglect can occur frequently. In addition, the extremely underpaid workers at these facilities also perpetrated physical and emotional abuse.
When Medicare and Medicaid came about in the mid1960s, changes to long-term care facilities slowly emerged in the subsequent decades. What we have learned, the article suggests, “is that the core dynamic leading to abuse in long-term care is the tension between declining funding and rising demand.” Given that we are in a period in which the elderly population is growing rapidly, serious budget cuts to Medicaid could be devastating to older Americans who will require long-term care.
What Will Happen if Medicaid Gets Cut?
How does Medicaid getting cut impact the quality of care for older adults in nursing homes? If Medicaid is cut, then states will not be able to reimburse nursing homes in those states for the care they provide. As a result, nursing homes will have a more limited budget from which to pay employees. Currently, about 65% of an average nursing home’s budget goes toward employee wages and benefits. If a nursing home’s budget gets cut, it will have to cut employee wages and benefits. This could mean paying employees less (or providing fewer benefits), or hiring fewer employees.
Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities already are notoriously understaffed. If we do not take steps to ensure that funding exists for senior health care, we could see a drastic rise in the rates of nursing home abuse and neglect in San Clemente, elsewhere in California, and across the rest of the country.
Seek Advice from a San Clemente Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Do you have questions about filing a nursing home abuse claim? A nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer in San Clemente can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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(image courtesy of Jean Gerber)