June 11, 2024
Contact: Eric Heisler, eheisler@phca.org
Cell: 717-678-1031

More than 100 long-term care providers rally for support, share concerns about sustaining operations and care demands

HARRISBURG, Pa (July 11, 2024) –– The Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) held a rally at the state Capitol today where more than 100 long-term care providers from across the state attended, echoing their concerns over the sustainability of senior care through the halls of the Capitol.

In recent weeks, two Pennsylvania nursing homes closed suddenly, two more announced closures this summer and two long-term care providers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, impacting more than a dozen facilities in the state. More than 20 nursing homes have closed since 2020. Pennsylvania also had nearly 40 fewer personal care homes and assisted living communities in 2023 than in 2022.

“The status of senior care in Pennsylvania has become a full-blown crisis. We’re in an emergency, and this is unacceptable for a state with one of the oldest populations in the country,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. “Our older loved ones and neighbors find their care options in jeopardy because Pennsylvania has refused to make the necessary investments in the care of seniors and adults with disabilities. We are not only here to rally for funding and legislative support of our workforce initiatives, but we are here to warn our state leaders of what will happen if they do not act immediately.”

A recent PHCA member survey revealed that nearly half of the nursing home owners/operators that participated have plans to close or sell one or more nursing homes within the next year. The primary reason for closures continues to be inadequate Medicaid reimbursement from the state for the care of low-income seniors and adults with disabilities. The daily reimbursement shortfall per resident will average more than $60 a day by July –– an annual statewide shortfall of more than $1 billion.

“The need for care is valued by seniors and their families, but is undervalued by the state,” Shamberg continued. “Nursing homes have waitlists of Pennsylvanians needing care. There are beds available for those residents, but they don’t have enough funding to recruit more workers to provide that care. At the same time, we are kicking residents out of senior living communities and sending them to nursing homes –– or back to their families –– because we won’t allow Medicaid to pay for their care in that setting.”

“Ninety-three percent of my residents are Medicaid,” said Loryn Green, the administrator and executive director of Inglis House, a Philadelphia nonprofit skilled nursing community for adults with complex physical disabilities. “When all care and services are factored in, there is a reimbursement gap upwards of $164 per patient per day. If nursing homes are no longer an option because we are not investing in this level of care, are we really supporting choice? The majority of the 181 residents and their families who call Inglis House home choose to be there every day.”

PHCA is advocating for increased funding in the state budget to more adequately pay providers back for the costs they endure when caring for low-income seniors and adults with disabilities reliant on the Medicaid program. Part of the funding request is $100 million for a quality incentive program that delivers supplemental funds to providers that meet certain quality metrics. PHCA is also advocating for the passage of legislative initiatives that include:

House Bill 2320: Requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to disperse Medicaid funds to a nursing home provider as if the application were approved under certain circumstances. The bill also allows a provider to inquire about the status of an individual’s application.
Senate Bill 520: allowing assisted living communities to be Medicaid-eligible in order for more older adults to age in place without being forced to transition to a nursing home when their financial means run out.
Senate Bill 1102: working to modernize Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training in Pennsylvania by establishing a uniformed, state-wide CNA training program, allowing nurse graduates and students to take the CNA certification exam without completing the nurse aide training program.
Senate Bill 1103: directing the Department of Human Services to create a skills competency evaluation for prospective caregivers in lieu of a high school diploma or GED equivalency.
Senate Bill 1104: introducing a new generation of Pennsylvanians to careers in nursing by allowing high school juniors and seniors to earn up to two credits toward their graduation requirement by working in a congregate health care setting.
Senate Bill 668: Expands the career ladder in nursing homes by establishing a Certified Medication Aide (CMA) position. This position will help support providers struggling to obtain Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) while expanding career opportunities for Certified Nurse Aides (CNA) who want to further their professional skills.
House Bill 2320: Requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to disperse Medicaid funds to a nursing home provider as if the application were approved under certain circumstances. The bill also allows a provider to inquire about the status of an individual’s application.

Legislative speakers at the rally included Sen. Judy Ward, the Chair of the Senate Aging & Youth Committee.

On Monday, PHCA held a Legislative Conference which included guest speakers Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman, House Majority Leader Matt Bradford, and U.S. Senate Republican candidate Dave McCormick. All three quest speakers spoke about the care for Pennsylvania’s rapidly aging population needing to be addressed.

Photos of both events can be downloaded here. Video of the Rally Day press conference can be viewed here.

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