Budget talks are consuming. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or where you live, financial uncertainty will affect you one way or another, this includes patients in assisted living facilities.
As states prepare for the 2012 fiscal year to begin, many have made budgetary changes to their Medicaid program. Some of which include cuts to assisted living facilities. These cuts may create a wave of low-income, frail senior citizens looking for new places to call home.
Medicaid may not be enough
According to Senior Housing News many Medicaid-certified assisted living facilities are allowing only the bare minimum of Medicaid residents to reside in their facility. This becomes a critical issue when private funds for care have been exhausted and a person needs to rely on Medicaid to help supplement the cost of care. Many assisted living facilities are refusing to allow residents converting from private pay to medical assistance and forcing them to move. Why is this occurring, Eric Carlson, from the National Senior Citizen’s Law Center reported to Alyssa Gerace in her July 2011 article, “Assisted Living Residents Face Challenges When Transitioning from Private Pay to Medicaid” that Medicaid reimbursement is less lucrative than private pay. Many facilities would rather keep open beds available for private pay opportunities.
Can assisted living facilities do this? The short answer: Maybe. For residents residing in non-Medicaid certified facilities they can refuse to accept medical assistance as a supplemental form of payment. In these facilities, administration can dictate that lack of resources is an acceptable reason for discharge. However, for those residing in Medicaid-certified facilities, residents may have a case for staying where they are. ““The facility would need to force the person out, and the argument from the facility’s side is only that they’re not getting paid,” says Carlson. “The resident would have a very strong defense: ‘They’re just not taking the money I’m offering to them.’”
Don’t wait, Act now
So, what can you do if you or your loved one is running out funds? Don’t wait until the balance reaches zero. Speak with the facility administrator now about what options are available to you. You may find that they are accepting of your financial situation. They may provide you with alternative methods to help pay for care, such as the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefits. Or, perhaps they will tell you to begin looking for alternative housing. In any case, speaking with an elder law attorney about your rights may not be a such a bad idea.
Regardless of regulations and certifications, there should be a moral obligation to take care of our elderly. Unfortunately most decisions come down to the dreaded bottom line and with health care facilities across the country working in the Red it makes accepting less-than-staller forms of payments much more difficult.
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