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GUEST OPINION | Safety Net Assessment will help protect most vulnerable citizens
With Washington facing budget deficits at historically high levels through the next biennium, the Governor and legislature must consider budget cuts that will significantly affect virtually all services and programs. No program or service will be exempt from scrutiny, including services that are provided to our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly and disabled served in skilled nursing homes like Regency Care Center at Arlington.
We have been a skilled nursing home provider in this community for over 30 years, caring for 62 residents and employing 65 full- and part-time staff. We are challenged every day to respond to ever-changing federal and state regulatory requirements, while ensuring that our residents receive the highest quality of care, provided by experienced and skilled employees. We are expected to meet these challenges even though reimbursement rates for low income Medicaid eligible residents have been reduced year after year and now average $28 per day below the cost of care.
We have reached a “tipping point” and cannot continue caring for the low income elderly and disabled with further cuts to Medicaid rates. However, we believe that there is a solution that doesn’t rely on simply increasing state government spending. We are supporting legislation to establish a nursing home “Safety Net Assessment” that will bring millions of new federal dollars into the state, negating further cuts to Medicaid rates and enabling nursing homes to retain skilled, experienced staff and ensure quality care for our elderly. This is not a new idea, 37 other states have been doing something similar for years.
So, we urge readers to contact legislators and express support for the proposed legislation. We believe this is the means to continue the high quality of care and quality of life that the elderly and disabled of our community deserve.
Mike Shaw is the Administrator at the Regency Care Center in Arlington.