Economy graph: green rising arrow and dollar bills.
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A Buckeye State senior living and care advocacy organization is asking the state for another $600 million to help assisted living and other long-term care providers offset the increased costs of providing care.

The Ohio Health Care Association, the state affiliate of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, is asking the state to help assisted living communities, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers through updated Medicaid reimbursement rates.

OHCA Executive Director Pete Van Runkle told McKnight’s Senior Living that the association is seeking a Medicaid rate rebasing to take effect Jan. 1. The $600 million, he added, is an estimate of the annual cost of rebasing using a revised rate formula that, among other things, would funnel 60% of the additional funding into quality-based payments.

Rates were last updated in 2021, based on 2019 pre-pandemic costs, according to Van Runkle. Reimbursement is based on what the lowest 25% of facilities are paying, but he said OHCA wants to see that formula increased to 50%.

Van Runkle said that increased staffing and operating costs are hitting providers hard and that many facilities are not breaking even. Long-term care facilities not only need immediate financial relief but also a dedicated funding stream to help sustain the industry longer term, he added.

Ohio lawmakers are considering using some of the state’s $5.4 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding to support the workforce in skilled nursing facilities. 

Although long-term care facilities previously have not received ARPA dollars for care, the state did approve $59 million in early March for home- and community-based services providers. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) issued an executive order authorizing relief payments to the state’s Medicaid waiver program PASSPORT and assisted living providers providing HCBS totaling $59 million. Assisted living providers were eligible for $33 million of that funding.