Local Legislators Talk Senior Health Care Funding

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Amidst a critical phase of state budget planning, several Massachusetts legislators and senior living industry professionals convened Thursday to discuss the urgent need of increased funding for senior health care in the state.

The group including Rep. Joseph McKenna, R-Webster; Rep. David Muradian, R-Grafton; Rep. Brian Murray, D-Milford; Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston; Rep. Denise Garlick, D-Needham, Rep. Harold Naughton, D-Clinton; Rep. Mike Soter, R-Bellingham; Rep. Paul Frost, R-Auburn; Sen. Michael Moore, D-Millbury, and others gathered for breakfast at SALMON Health and Retirement’s Westborough campus to discuss the crisis Massachusetts nursing homes are facing as a result of underfunding from the state government.

President of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association Tara Gregorio led a presentation explaining how the Medicaid Funding Gap, the difference between what it costs nursing homes to provide high quality resident care each day and what Medicaid actually reimburses, is the largest in history and among the worst in the nation. This shortfall of approximately $38 per resident per day resulted in 20 Massachusetts skilled nursing centers closing in 2018, displacing 2,000 residents and leaving the same number of employees without jobs.

“We really need legislative support in recognizing this is a crisis,” Gregorio said.

Industry professionals then shared personal struggles within their care communities resulting from the underfunding, and SALMON officials led a tour of Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center at Westborough to help legislators get a sense of a skilled nursing center’s environment and equip them with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision regarding the funding of senior care.