It is well-documented that Alabama’s budget deficits are affecting an important aspect of health care for Alabama citizens. The Medicaid funding crises has caused tremendous problems for not only Medicaid recipients, but there are also other problems. Medicaid needs an additional $100 million to meet its current needs.
More than one million Alabamians benefit from Medicaid. Of that number, 56 percent of recipients are children, and 28 percent are the elderly and disabled. While most individuals older than 65 who are residents in a nursing home received Medicare (federal) benefits, a large portion of nursing home residents do not.
The financial crisis for Medicaid has had a trickledown effect on other agencies involved in health care, such as the Alabama Department of Public Health, resulting in fewer nursing home investigators being hired or retained to investigate complaints brought by family members against nursing homes.
According to State regulations, nursing homes are to be inspected at least bi-annually by a Department of Public Health investigator. For 2016, the State’s budget allows for a total of nearly $713 million for the State Health Department, with only $22 million coming from the State coffers, compared to the 2016 Medicaid budget of $937 million with most of that amount ($705 million) coming from the General Fund budget.
So what does all of this mean for Alabama nursing home residents? With fewer budget dollars, State government is no longer able to provide for investigations of long-term care facilities as they once did. Our firm has been receiving feedback from individuals who call our office and ask for assistance with nursing homes. Some of the people who call our office seeking help are telling us they asked the Health Department for help, but officials are telling them that there is nothing that can be done. When the State lacks the budget to investigate complaints of neglect and abuse, our senior citizens, who are already at a high risk of harm, are left largely defenseless.
Our hope is that the State finds the budget dollars to hire enough investigators to investigate poorly run or managed nursing homes and correct the health risks to our parents, grandparents and loved ones who are in nursing homes. Ben Locklar heads up our firm’s Nursing Home Litigation team. If you have any questions or have a potential nursing home claim, contact Ben at 800-898-2034 or by email at Ben.Locklar@beasleyallen.com.
Source: http://budget.alabama.gov/pages/appropgf.aspx; AL.com and ABC3340.com
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