Nursing homes brace for Medicaid cuts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nursing homes brace for Medicaid cuts

^ Tammie Green ^ Tammie Green

January 30, 2002

Lee County--Budget cuts are cutting care for the elderly.

Laura Amos, Administrator at Lee County Health Care, says "They can't approve anymore cuts. There is no way for us to stay open, lose money daily and provide for people." Nursing homes are bracing for Medicaid reductions.

In just a few days, budget cuts made under former Governor Roy Barnes go into effect, slashing five percent from Medicaid. On top of that, an additional ten percent cut is in the works under Governor Perdue's plan. Nursing homes, like Lee County Healthcare, say if they stretch their Medicaid dollar anymore, it's going to break.

Tammie Greene takes pride in her job as a Certified Nursing Assistant--but that job is in jeopardy, "Sort of. I'm sort of frightened. I've been doing this for a living for a while."

"I'm worried for the staff here, the residents here, the families, worried about the reputation, all of it." Laura Amos keeps a smile on her face--but behind that smile are fears about the future, "I've been doing this 20 years first time I've seen it come down to this serious of an issue--not sure how to do it. I don't know if I can cut enough staff to make a difference. I'm really worried."

Like most nursing homes, 80 percent of the residents at Lee County HealthCare are on Medicaid. Starting February first, Medicaid rates will drop by about 13 dollars a day per patient--money that this nursing home cannot afford to lose. Laura Amos says, "We still have regulations, inspectors to meet and our conscious to keep clean, these are our people we can't reduce what we are doing, there are no other options."

Laura Amos is holding out hope that lawmakers will rethink the cuts to Medicaid--at the very least, stop anymore from happening. The Nursing Home Association, made up of more than 350 nursing homes in the state, is petitioning Georgia legislators and Governor Perdue to reverse the Medicaid reductions. Laura Amos made a trip to the Capital herself, pleading with lawmakers to stop the cuts.

Posted at 6:23 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com