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State could reduce DSHS eligibility | Letter

Washington state has started the budget process for the next biennium, which runs July 2021 – July 2023. DSHS has put forth a proposal to reduce eligibility for Medicaid by about 38%. A 38% cut in eligibility actually impacts 80 to 90% of the Medicaid assisted-living residents. This occurs due to a scoring system that does not provide any score for medication management, resulting in the placement of the majority at the lowest reimbursement level.

A reduction in eligibility on this scale would not only immediately eliminate housing and services for 12,000 seniors, who have paid taxes and helped build the modern economy, but would imperil the entire senior care industry and related industries. This in turn would impact the financial industry, as defaults and bankruptcies follow, as well as State revenues, as payrolls, real estate taxes, and excise taxes decline. If the proposed eligibility standards are applied, the majority of senior communities that accept Medicaid would close, adding 30,000 more people to the number of unserved. Those few who would still qualify would have no access because the beds would no longer exist. Plus, DSHS proposes to cut 3% across the board for the remaining eligible Medicaid clients.

Currently, the facilities that accept Medicaid payments for their residents are reimbursed at 27% less than the 2007 level. The correct response to the situation is to increase the reimbursement level by at least 20%, not take away support.

DSHS projects that the proposed reduction in Medicaid eligibility for assisted living and memory care would save $78 million. By displacing 12,000 seniors, DSHS will save less than one-tenth of 1% of the total State budget.

The elimination of benefits for 12,000 seniors would be accomplished by cutting eligibility for:

• 30% of seniors needing skilled nursing facility care.

• 38% of seniors needing assisted living care.

• 22% of seniors needing specialized dementia care and other residential settings.

Please go to http://www.whca.org/advocacy/action-center to send a message to your governor and representatives.

Jeff Nichols

Lopez