N.J. nursing homes say Medicaid cuts are too deep

    New Jersey nursing home operators girded themselves for a little belt tightening this year, but some say they’re being squeezed too much.

    Nursing care providers were expecting a 3 percent reduction in Medicaid reimbursements, but some facilities in the Garden State say they’re facing an 8 percent cut.

    In 2010, New Jersey revamped its payment system to financially reward centers that care for sicker patients. Paul Bach, the Central Area president of Genesis Health Care, says the 2011 cuts were configured incorrectly for those facilities.

    “Our system allows for providers with heavier-care residents to receive higher levels of reimbursement, and the manner in which the reduction in payments were made disproportionately penalized those providers that have the sickest patients residing in its facilities,” Bach said.

    Genesis has facilities across New Jersey,  including locations in Pennsauken, Voorhees and Burlington. It is asking Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers to review the math used to calculate the new reimbursement rates.

    By email a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services said Medicaid funding for nursing homes represents nearly half of the department’s overall budget so it’s difficult to lower costs without affecting those facilities.

    Paul Langevin, who leads the Health Care Association of New Jersey, said most people don’t plan for nursing home care.

    “Everybody thinks the government pays for it, and they do, but they basically don’t pay for it until you impoverish yourself,” Lagevin said.

    Members of Langevin’s group operate long-term care facilities across the state. He said many learned about the larger-than-expected cuts well after setting salaries, staffing levels and employee benefits for the year.

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