HB2766 misses an opportunity in the Texas Senate to help state’s elderly
An attempt to improve nursing home care in Texas fell victim to delays and legislative deadlines as House Bill 2766 failed to get a vote in the Texas Senate early Thursday morning.
“We are profoundly disappointed this smart, practical plan for improving nursing home care in Texas did not pass,” said Kevin Warren, president and CEO of the Texas Health Care Association. “Texas nursing homes will continue to struggle with underpayment and quality of care will suffer. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to improving long term care, this is heartbreaking.”
House Bill 2766 would have boosted long term care funding in Texas without any additional state spending. The bill would have allowed nursing home owners to put up their own dollars to draw down federal dollars Texas now loses. Half of the funds would have been tied to improved quality of care with the remaining funds used to address the shortfall between the cost of care and what the state reimburses. The bill, carried by family practice doctor State Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville) and Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) enjoyed broad bipartisan support passing the House of Representatives by a wide margin. It was also supported by AARP Texas.
“The families of the more than 90,000 Texans who will go to sleep tonight in a nursing facility also have reason to be disappointed by the state Senate’s lack of action,” Warren said. “It is regrettable that Texans who rely on our state’s nursing facilities were not one of this Legislature’s priorities. Rep. Sheffield and Sen. Hinojosa and many of their colleagues understand these issues and worked hard to address them. Unfortunately, not enough legislators did and general revenue was once again not available.”
For years, Texas has lagged behind other states in funding for nursing homes. Forty-three other states have programs in place to supplement long term care funding similar to the one that failed to get a vote on Thursday.
The result has been a steady struggle to maintain quality of care while long term care improves across the rest of the nation. “It’s hard to improve when you can’t make investments in training, or facility upgrades, and your staff turnover is more than 90 percent because direct care staff can make more working at a fast food restaurant,” Warren said.
“The dedicated people caring for our frail and elderly Texans will continue to do the best they can with what they have,” Warren said.
“We will not give up. This is too important to too many Texans,” Warren said. “There are residents, families and communities counting on a long overdue solution. We must continue with focus and determination until our political leaders no longer look the other way and finally provide the support that is needed to give our residents the support they deserve. That is our only way forward.”
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