Possible Skilled-Care Cuts Could Make Nursing Homes More Dangerous

Posted on Oct 15, 2009
Studies show that nursing home abuse and neglect skyrocket when adult care facilities lack staff, nurses, support, and money. Unskilled staffers are more likely to inadvertently harm those in their care, and short-staffed nursing homes are more likely to over-use restrains and chemical restraints. Just this past winter, a North Carolina nursing home was sued after a woman wandered out of the home to her death after not receiving her medication during an under-staffed evening.

Now many across North Carolina worry that cuts to federal and state nursing home programs will reduce the quality of care for the seniors in adult care facilities. The health care reform bill being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives could have an effect on skilled-care nursing homes, as Medicare cuts for seniors would impact those in assisted living environments. Medicare payments make up roughly 30 percent of nursing home profits - and losing even part of that money may mean staff cuts or other cuts that could impact the safety or quality of nursing home care.

The Baucus Bill, which is not especially popular with either side of the health care debate, contains about $15 billion in cuts over 10 years involving skilled-nursing home payments. This could translate to the loss of at least one registered nurse per nursing home in North Carolina. It might not seem like an enormous difference, but registered nurses are responsible for the medication and overall health of seniors living in nursing homes.

The American Health Care Association has come out against the cuts, saying that it will put the quality of care for seniors in nursing homes at risk.

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