New Hampshire

NH health providers say state’s low Medicaid rates add to staffing ‘crisis’

Health care providers in New Hampshire are pushing for a significant increase in Medicaid rates this year, saying it would help them deal with increasingly severe staffing shortages.

During a hearing Wednesday, leading health care providers told lawmakers that the reimbursement they receive from the state’s Medicaid program often falls short of the actual cost of providing care. That makes it difficult to pay competitive wages at a time when organizations across the healthcare sector are struggling to fill vacancies.

“Over the past nine months we’ve spent $1.2 million on agency staffing,” said Joe Bohunicky, administrator at Manchester’s Mt. Carmel Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, which has 30 open nursing positions. “Why? Because there’s no extra staff out there that we could hire.”

the hearing in question an invoice proposed by Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, that would allocate $145 million over the next two years to increasing Medicaid rates.

The shortage of workers has an impact on the entire healthcare system. Long-term care facilities had to leave beds unused because they could not staff them; Some nursing homes have waiting lists of 100 people. And with those facilities full, hospitals have few options to discharge patients who need further assistance – putting additional strain on hospital capacity.

“Patients across the state remain in hospital beds when they no longer require acute inpatient care,” said Paula Minnehan, senior vice president at the New Hampshire Hospital Association. “It’s going to be a crisis. They can’t go because they have nowhere to go.”

She urged lawmakers to allocate more Medicaid funds to long-term care as well as mental health care. Every day, dozens of people are held in hospital emergency rooms awaiting inpatient psychiatric treatment.

Roland Lamy, the head of the Community Behavioral Health Association, told NHPR that New Hampshire’s 10 community mental health centers have more than 300 vacancies. Low Medicaid rates are a key driver, he said. He appreciates the community mental health centers would require a $28 million increase in Medicaid revenue make their wages competitive.

“As a masters-level psychologist, we pay maybe $29 an hour, and the market pays $45 an hour,” he said.

Ryan Donnelly, an advocacy coordinator at Granite State Independent Living, said the lack of direct caregivers is making it harder for seniors and people with disabilities to stay in their homes.

“Some of our consumers have even made, or are considering, the very undesirable decision of moving into care homes to receive the personal care they need to live safely,” he said, “because it has become too difficult to hire and.” to keep home caregivers”.

Senate President Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro who sits on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, asked for more clarity on exactly how the money would be divided before moving forward.

“I don’t want to pit Peter against Paul, but between this bill and Senate Bill 36, we heard about the need for increases in DD rates, long-term care, CFI, behavioral health,” he said, using acronyms for developmental disabilities and Choices for Independence, a home care program. “I suppose there are others. But some kind of definition of where we are going would be helpful I think.”

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