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After a surge of COVID-19 cases in April and early May, we  appear to be trending toward “recovery.” Today, there are no cases of COVID-19 among our residents. Six members of staff, out on medical leave, are on their way to recovery. We have opened our doors to admit new short-term patients who are negative for COVID-19. We cannot say with certainty that this crisis is over. We can only say that, for now, we are making our way back to business as usual.

As Deutsches Altenheim settles into its new “normal,” I thought I would shift the focus of my weekly update slightly to share information from other sources that I hope you will find both enlightening and, if you’re a Massachusetts voter, empowering.

First, I’d like to share a this Boston Globe article. Oftentimes, the only coverage nursing homes receive in the press is negative. This article is different in that it provides a frank look at both the difficulties and the rewards of working in nursing homes.

Secondly, and most importantly, I ask for your assistance with an urgent matter concerning Massachusetts nursing homes. If you are a registered voter in Massachusetts, I urge you to take action before the June 17 deadline.

Sign the petition here.

Nursing facilities are facing an unprecedented workforce and financial crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Massachusetts Senior Coalition, a group of concerned citizens, residents, family members and employees who believe nursing home residents deserve the highest quality of care, has filed and is advocating for a nursing home ballot initiative. The initiative seeks the passage of a 2020 ballot question that would create a law requiring the state to adequately fund and support nursing home care.

Facts about nursing homes in Massachusetts

  • 70% of nursing home residents depend on Medicaid for their quality care each year.
  • More than 30 nursing homes have closed in the past two years.
  • 73,000 caregivers are employed by skilled nursing facilities.
  • Medicaid reimbursement in our state is among the worst in the nation.
  • Medicaid residents in nursing homes are facing a $362 million funding gap.
  • Each Medicaid resident’s care is underfunded by an average of $38.00 a day.

There is a crisis going on in Massachusetts nursing homes. The crisis is not new, but the pandemic has certainly brought it to the forefront for nursing home staff, residents and family members. Nursing homes don’t want to be ill-prepared when a crisis such as the pandemic strikes, as it did in March. The stark reality, however, is that nursing homes in Massachusetts have been underfunded for decades, resulting in staffing and supply shortages, and buildings in disrepair. Nursing homes, including Deutsches Altenheim, were struggling pre-pandemic to make ends meet. The pandemic drained an already-strained system of a healthy workforce, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and much-needed funds to maintain viability.

We urgently need your support. Please sign the petition to protect staff, residents and their families who rely on vital nursing home care.

Sign the petition here.

Be well, stay healthy, and please, wear a mask,

Michael B. Lincoln
Chief Executive Officer

Download the update: May 29 Update

Summary of 19-11

This proposed law would change how reimbursement rates for nursing homes and rest homes paid by the state are established by the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The proposed law would require the Executive Office to use historical costs from a “base year” not more than two years before the current year in calculating a provider’s reimbursement rates. The proposed law would eliminate the Executive Office’s ability to make adjustments for reasonableness, remove the current restriction against providers using costs from years other than the chosen base year to appeal the reimbursement rates established by the Executive Office, and set the occupancy standard for nursing homes used in calculating a nursing home’s reimbursement rate as the statewide average from the base year.
The proposed law would require that the rates set for each provider be sufficient to pay all allowable costs of caring for beneficiaries of the state’s MassHealth program and all allowable costs of implementation of any state or federal law, regulation, or other governmental mandate to the extent permissible by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Any additional costs incurred by a provider as a result of the rate-setting process established by the proposed law would also be included in that provider’s rate.
The proposed law would require the Executive Office, in compliance with the methods and standards described above, to determine and certify rates for general health supplies, care, rehabilitative services, and accommodations incurred in the ordinary course of running a facility.
The proposed law would require that the Executive Office apply the regulations governing the calculation of nursing home rates in effect on January 25, 2019, to the extent that those regulations are consistent with the proposed law, when establishing rates for the covered facilities.
The proposed law could be amended only by a two-thirds roll-call vote of the Legislature.
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