BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A number of changes and reforms to services for the elderly and those with disabilities could go into effect in January.
Living Choices provides Medicaid coverage for about 1,300 Arkansans in assisted living.
One proposed program change includes a reduction in the rate that DHS pays each day them, and a switch to a single pay rate for all levels of care.
That rate would drop by almost $20. On Friday a protest was held in Bentonville against this proposal.
Susan Gleghorn’s mother, Helen, has been in an assisted living facility for the past seven months.
But now it’s all up in the air if proposed Medicaid cuts move forward.
“Assisted living is where I want my mother to be,” Gleghorn said. “That means either going home and we’re not capable, not trained to take care of Alzheimer’s patients, or different issues the elderly have. Or going to a nursing home, and right now in Northwest Arkansas, there’s only 3 beds that are available locally.”
Mark white with the Division of Aging Adult and Behavioral Health Services says the DHS is in a tough position because it has to demonstrate to the federal government that the rate DHS pay is justified and has evidence to support it.
“Based on all that information, the actuarial firm came back on an estimation of this $62.89 figure. That’s what its based on. One reason we’ve looked at this rate is when you compare our rate to surrounding states, we pay a rate that’s significantly higher,” White said.
Jennifer Frost, Director of Nursing at the Gardens at Osage Terrace, says these cuts could mean a 21% loss in daily income from Medicaid.
“We would have to cut staff, residents would have to be placed elsewhere if they don’t meet the criteria, and some facilities in the state will have to close their doors,” Frost said.
White says DHS is doing its best to balance its responsibilities to its beneficiaries, the federal government, and the tax payers.
“We make these programs financially sustainable so that they are available not only for beneficiaries today, but for our beneficiaries in 5 years and 10 years down the road as that population,” White said.
“I’m going to keep fighting and believe the best. I’m going to believe that somebody, somewhere, is going to get the message delay the amendment,” Gleghorn said.
This proposal is in the public comment period until November 7.
DHS will hold public hearings across the state and discussions with assisted living providers to try to reach an agreement.