Long-term care facilities go to Washington DC to outline needed assistance

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN)—As the COVID threat diminishes significantly, places like long-term care facilities are still struggling. They said burn-out, costs, and gaps in funding are leaving them in a bind. Now Nebraska facilities are in Washington DC to outline why they need help and fast.

The group in DC said they’re to speak directly with lawmakers about the importance of allocating funds to long-term care facilities as the ripple effect of the pandemic continues. The group in DC includes representatives from Tabitha Health in Lincoln. Their CEO said if something doesn’t change soon, things will continue to worsen.

“There will be a point where lots and lots of providers of elder care just simply cannot keep up or stay in the game so to speak, so that said we need lawmakers to pay attention to the fact that we need additional reimbursement and we need it in order to pay the front line caregivers fair and appropriate wages,” said Christie Hinrichs, Tabitha Health CEO.

One of the biggest goals of the trip is to get more federal dollars into the Medicaid reimbursement program. Right now, when it comes to those costs, facilities are operating in the red.

“Reimbursement from Medicaid in the state of Nebraska pays us $40 per day less than the cost that it is to care for those in our care,” said Hinrichs. “So that’s math that doesn’t add up, can’t even make just a bottom line”

They’re also advocating for other ways to address staffing shortages, like streamlining the process of getting nurses trained and into the workforce and making it easier for immigrants to get certified.

“There are many many countries that have very well qualified and very compassionate caregivers that could come and immediately be a solution for us,” said Hinrichs.

Hinrichs said in conversations with others on the trip who work in her industry. They said this is not just a Nebraska-specific problem, making their trip even more important.

“We’re competing against ourselves in this already too small pool of applicants and providers for healthcare in many ways were just self-damaging,” said Hinrichs.

There are also multiple bills still working their way through the Nebraska Unicameral that would spend millions of dollars to plug gaps in assisted living and Medicaid-certified nursing facilities, using that money for bonuses, recruitment, and staff retention.

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