June 15, 2023
Contact: Shayna Varner, 304-280-0457
Cell: 304-280-0457

Long-term care advocates rally for support in Harrisburg after bipartisan state report validates industry concerns

HARRISBURG, Pa (June 14, 2023) –– As demand increases for long-term care services in Pennsylvania, caregivers rallied at the State Capitol Wednesday vocalizing the need for continued support to sustain care for the state’s fastest-growing population. The rally took place on the heels of a Joint State Government Commission report that recommends “robust financial support” for long-term care providers to overcome workforce shortages and rely less on inconsistent and costly contracted agency staff who are jeopardizing the sector’s financial sustainability.

The state’s population of adults aged 85 and older is expected to nearly double by 2030, generating an immense demand at a time when Medicaid reimbursement payments for care continue to fall short of rising costs, and lack of worker availability plagues access to care. The Commission’s report found that there are more than 13,000 unfilled full-time positions in long-term care compared to 2018. Subsequently, providers are relying heavily on contracted workers from staffing agencies to fill positions. The report found agencies are billing at 40-84% more than the hourly rate of full-time employees.

This destructive combination has resulted in the Commission’s finding that there are now 4.7 percent fewer nursing beds available than in 2013. This translates to an access to care crisis as older adults and adults with disabilities wait to be admitted for care –– an alarming statistic made evident in a recent PHCA survey that revealed an estimated 2,000 Pennsylvania residents are on waitlists for care at nursing homes.

“There is a freight train of essential care needs barreling toward us and we’re running out of track. Last year, we began to pave the way for our residents and put long-term care on a path to success. But this year, we need continued investment in the state budget in order to ensure sustainability –– now and into the future,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. “We are asking for support for our most vulnerable population, to stabilize their care by expanding our workforce and, ultimately, expand the access to the care we might someday all need.”

The Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) is advocating for a $99.1 million Medicaid increase in the 2023-24 state budget to support providers in the recruitment and retention of caregivers, as well as to mitigate the impact of increased operational and resident-related costs. A necessary need as new state regulations take effect over the next two years, which will mandate more staff and staffing ratios in facilities.

The Commission’s report –– the outcome of a Senate Resolution sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward –– ranked “increase[ing] Medicaid reimbursement rates to fully cover the cost of residents at skilled nursing facilities” as the top recommendation.

“Turning our backs on the needs of our older loved ones is not an option. That is why we made a historic investment in long-term care last year, and why I’ll continue to advocate for the support of long-term care,” said Sen. Judy Ward, chairwoman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee. “The Commission’s in-depth analysis provides key recommendations we should all look to act on immediately.”

PHCA’s rally closed out a two-day legislative and advocacy symposium that brought together caregivers, industry experts, and elected leaders to address policies regarding how to sustain and advance long-term care.

The rally featured more than 50 providers who work in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and personal care homes.

To help long-term care residents and workers advocate for investments in senior care, visit WhoWillCarePA.com.

Media Contact: Shayna Varner / svarner@phca.org / 304-280-0457

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