Supporters contend passage of the Sept. 18 trust fund amendment (65 percent to 35 percent), will provide more resources for nursing home care, thereby reducing the risk of abuse or neglect in Alabama nursing homes.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported the amendment was heavily lobbied for by the Alabama Nursing Home Association. Passage means nearly $500 million will be taken from the Alabama Trust Fund and placed in the General Fund over the course of the next three years.
Without the increased funding, drastic cuts to Alabama’s Medicaid program would have had severe implications for the two-thirds of Alabama nursing home residents who rely upon those funds for care.
What we’ll do in three years when those funds are exhausted is less clear. But nursing home funding will most assuredly become an issue of increasing importance in coming years, with the retirement of the baby boom generation. An estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring every day. The 2010 Census reported a 15 percent increase in the senior population over the last decade. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging reports the number of seniors in Alabama is expected to nearly double between 2000 and 2030, from 770,000 to more than 1.3 million.
The truth is the vast majority of nursing homes turn a significant profit for the large chain corporations that own them. The Agency for Health Care Administration reports two-thirds of the nation’s 17,000 nursing homes are for-profit enterprises and more than half are owned by chain corporations.
Nearly 70 percent of facility reimbursement comes through Medicaid — less than one-fourth comes via private pay. The Alabama Nursing Home Association defines several types of care facilities, including long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, retirement communities and adult daycare. The average cost of nursing home care in Alabama is about $170 a day.
The Alabama Department of Public Health offers a number of resources to families looking to choose a nursing home. You can also review health care facility deficiencies as determined by state inspections.
The New England Journal of Medicine reports half of all women and one-third of all men currently over the age of 65 will spend their last years in a nursing home. We all deserve to live out our retirement years with peace and dignity. Choosing the right nursing home for your loved one, and making regular visits to check on their well-being, can help ensure they are not subjected to neglect or abuse.
It’s incumbent upon each one of us to help police the system. The holidays are a busy time at most nursing facilities. Do your part and keep an eye open. Speak to someone at the facility about concerns. And, if that doesn’t resolve the issue, speak to an experienced Alabama nursing home neglect and abuse attorney.
When these companies put profits before resident care, neglect is more likely to occur due to improper staffing, poor training or other issues. By giving voice to the voiceless you can help prevent our most vulnerable residents from suffering needlessly.
Defective Product Watch in Birmingham: Trampolines & Home Risks, Published by Cross & Smith, LLC, Sept. 26, 2012.
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