Ohio Sets the Bar Low for Nursing Home Care Quality Improvement

Ohio legislators are aiming to improve the quality of care provided in state nursing homes through new requirements that will affect the amount of Medicaid reimbursement they receive, but some administrators think the standards are too easy to meet, reports Cincinnati.com.

Senate Bill 264, sponsored by state senator Shannon Jones, ties higher reimbursements to 20 new quality measures.

However, nursing homes only have to meet five of those measures in order to get a higher daily reimbursement, and some say that this isn’t much of a challenge.

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“They’ve set the bar so low that everybody’s going to get” the money, the article quotes Ken Huff, vice president and CFO of Maple Knoll Communities, a non-profit that operates nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Springdale and Oxford, as saying.

State officials from the Office of Health Transformation counter by saying that they “want 100 percent” of the state’s nursing homes to meet the new standards, according to the office’s spokesperson Eric Poklar, reports Cincinnati.com

“Then at some point you adjust [the standards] up and turn this into a continual quality improvement program,” said Poklar.

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The Office of Health Transformation was created by state governor John Kasich to “curb the state’s Medicaid spending and improve the performance of the health care system,” says the article, and the idea behind this bill is to get the state’s more than 900 nursing homes to focus on quality.

Ohio’s budget, which went into effect in July, set aside $300 million for the shift in quality payments beginning July 1, 2012.

Some smaller for-profit nursing homes are unhappy with the proposal as it will take Medicaid reimbursement dollars that the state previously paid out, reports Cincinnati.com.

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“Now they’re going to make us earn it back” while still providing better care at the old reimbursement rate, said Chris Murray, director of economic and policy analysis for the Academy of Senor Health Sciences Inc., a Columbus-based trade group, in the article.

“The new measures include 20 indicators, including whether a nursing home lets at least half of its residents decide when they get up and go to bed and whether it lets at least half of its residents eat when they’re hungry, instead of at set times,” says the article. “Others indicators include boosting the number of single-occupancy rooms, limiting the percentage of patients who complain of pain and limiting the use of paging systems to emergencies.”

The bill was sent to the governor on Dec. 16 after passing its third consideration on Dec. 14 from the House, and is expected to win final legislative in the near future, reports Cincinnati.com. The Senate previously approved it on Nov. 30 by a 31-0 vote.

Read the full Cincinnati.com article here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace