March 07, 2023

Flat Funding Will Halt Progress in Sustaining Senior Care

Harrisburg, Pa. (March 7, 2023) –– The Pennsylvania Health Care Association – a statewide long-term care advocacy organization for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents and their providers of care – has issued the following statement in response to Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget address. The statement can be attributed to Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association.

Pennsylvania has a responsibility to support the care of its most vulnerable citizens — our elderly and disabled loved ones and neighbors. And that means investments in Medicaid reimbursements for care, the primary payor source for nearly seven-hundred nursing homes across the commonwealth.

Unfortunately, Governor Shapiro’s first state budget proposal missed an important opportunity to build on the long-overdue work that was done in 2022 to put Pennsylvania’s long-term care continuum on a path to sustainability. Today’s proposal failed to include any new funds for nursing home providers, workers, and residents.

A recent PHCA survey revealed the magnitude of the industry’s workforce challenges, and how those challenges impact access to care. Pennsylvania nursing home providers have seen their labor costs increase 20 percent from 2019-2022, with no sign of slowing down – just as the Department of Health prepares to implement new, higher nursing home staffing requirements this July. And, according to CliftonLarsonAllen and their 2022 industry trends report, inflation increased 28 percent nationally during a similar time period. 

Last year, Pennsylvania took a big step forward in enacting a Medicaid reimbursement increase — the first in nearly a decade. To halt that momentum would only set back essential nursing care at a time when Pennsylvania’s population is rapidly aging and more people are relying on Medicaid to cover their costs. In fact, our commonwealth’s 85 and older population is expected to nearly double by 2040. Today, with an average of three Pennsylvanians waiting to be admitted into each of our commonwealth’s nursing homes, we are headed down the path of an inescapable disaster if we don’t address these issues now.

Supporting our elderly and adults with disabilities cannot be a ‘once every ten years’ phenomenon. Our providers need continued investment to ensure their mission of caring for others can be carried out; otherwise, flat funding will leave them flat-footed in their attempt to chart a new, sustainable path forward. 

Today’s proposal is only the beginning of the 2023-24 state budget process. We look forward to working with Governor Shapiro and the members of the General Assembly to address the needs of our aging population and the resources required to support Pennsylvania’s long-term care continuum.


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