The quality of care provided by California nursing homes has declined by almost every measure since the implementation of a new Medi-Cal rate system that increased funding the nursing facilities according to a new study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Meanwhile, nursing home complaints and the issuance of deficiencies have grown dramatically since the rate hike.
Critics contend that the nursing home industry crafted the rate hike on the basis that it was necessary to improve care. And while staffing levels improved under the new law, nursing home staff turnovers increased. The study reveals that 144 nursing homes in California failed to meet state minimum staffing requirements (.pdf).
According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform:
The rate system’s most controversial provision is a profit component that pays nursing homes 8 percent of their labor costs to spend or pocket as they wish. Estimated to cost Medi-Cal and taxpayers about $150 million per year, it is deceptively labeled as a “labor driven operating allocation.” Every freestanding skilled nursing facility certified by Medi-Cal receives profit payments, no matter how poor its care. No other Medi-Cal providers are guaranteed a profit.