SNF Funding Update and Media Coverage

SNF Funding Update and Media Coverage

After guidance from the Nursing Home Cabinet and a final vote from the LeadingAge Washington Board of Directors, we have finalized the SNF funding request for the 2020 legislative session. It will include a request for legislation to annually rebase direct and indirect care components starting July 1, 2020 and each July 1st thereafter. There would be a one time exception to the July rebase period beginning perhaps as soon as this coming March 1st to stabilize SNFs.  The proposal will also include an inflationary factor adjustment to the underlying cost data of 3.8%, based on CPI- Urban SNF, applied from the mid-point of the cost report year to the mid-point of the rate year (30 months).  The total cost of all three changes will be an estimated $38 million in state funds for one year.

We have already made some early progress with media coverage and support from the legislature. On Friday, Senator O’Ban held a press conference at Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community to speak on the loss of skilled nursing facilities around our state and the human impact as a result of the closures. During the press release, Senator O’Ban announced he will prime sponsor a bill to make the necessary changes to increase the Medicaid rates. His bill closely mirrors our requests although it includes a shorter inflation period of 18 months as opposed to 30 months. Conversations with O’Ban will, however, continue and we believe he will extend the inflationary adjustment to our requested 30 month coverage period.  We greatly appreciate Senator O’Ban’s leadership on this issue and LeadingAge will continue to work with him.  We also appreciate our partners AARP and the LTC Ombuds for participating in the press conference and prioritizing the improvement of our state’s Medicaid rates to minimize the transfer trauma and dislocation of residents and their families. You can find the link to the press conference here.

Since the press release, multiple news sources have covered the story of skilled nursing facility closures. Austin Jenkins from NW News Network contacted Deb Murphy on the associations’ response to O’Ban’s legislation, you can find the whole story here. King 5 News has also aired the story which emphasizes our state’s low Medicaid rates and interviews a couple who experienced a facility closure first hand, you can find the coverage here.

Continuing to build awareness on the Medicaid underfunding in our state will be vital to our success in the upcoming legislative session. LeadingAge WA has worked closely with WHCA, to launch a media campaign through a separately created LLC, named the Washington Health Action Network (WHAN). The Washington Health Action Network is a grassroots coalition of senior care providers, caregivers, residents, families and concerned citizens who have joined together to highlight the need for access, quality and support for publicly-funded long term care in Washington State and to advocate for a sustainable system of supports and services for those who require care.  We thank WHCA for taking the lead and financially backing this campaign.

We are asking all members to visit the WHAN website to watch the videos, read the blog and share with your networks. There is also a direct link to take action and send a message to your legislators urging them to support Washington seniors. At this time, we’ve had well over 6,000 messages go out to legislators around the state from concerned citizens. 

Finally, you are asked to include the name of your organization as a separate supporter of WHAN and to make whatever financial contribution you are able to at this time; no amount is too small and would help cover radio and other media broadcasts.

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact:

Alyssa Schnitzius- Director of Senior Living & Community Services 

c: 206.948.2279