February 23, 2013

Revenue Shortfalls at Maine Nursing Homes May Place Residents at Risk for Abuse

1114174_red_plaster sxchu username barky.jpgAt Waterville's Oak Grove Center Nursing Home, many of the facility's 130 employees reportedly work overtime without additional pay. According to facility Administrator Sara Sylvester, the long-term care facility is currently working hard to deal with chronic underfunding by the state. She said the skilled nursing home provides around the clock care for about 90 elderly and disabled Maine residents. Sylvester stated she was forced to cut back on overnight staffing levels as a direct result of budgetary constraints.

The Maine Health Care Association claims 107 skilled nursing facilities across Maine were allegedly underfunded by a total of $122 million in state and federal resources for each of the last five years. At Oak Grove, revenue shortfalls reportedly averaged about $340,000 per year. The underfunding has allegedly resulted because current MaineCare, the state Medicaid program, payments are made to long-term care facilities based on a payment formula that was established in 2005. As a result, nursing homes across the state are purportedly straining under the pressure of rising costs.

In the past, many nursing homes reportedly passed some revenue shortfalls on to patients who pay with private funds. In fact, the average bill for MaineCare patients is purportedly about 40 percent lower than for private-pay residents. According to Sylvester, however, that pool of money is no longer sufficient to make up the difference in revenue. In addition, many skilled nursing facility residents who initially fund their own nursing home expenses often find themselves utilizing MaineCare once the money they saved is spent.

Nursing home standards in Maine purportedly require that skilled nursing facility residents suffer from a number of health problems prior to admission. Unfortunately, this can mean the frailest patients are placed in a situation with too few direct care staff. Because of the purported financial strain that is currently being experienced by nursing homes across the state, the Maine Health Care Association is now advocating in favor of a bill that would increase MaineCare payments by about $6.5 million. In addition, the group would also reportedly like to see additional funding provided to facilities that primarily serve patients who rely on MaineCare and reward skilled nursing homes based on performance.

Nursing homes in Maine are required to employ a sufficient number of direct care workers to meet the needs of all residents based upon the level of care each patient requires. Additionally, minimum nursing staff requirements must also be met. Failure to provide enough well-trained direct care workers is a common cause of skilled nursing facility abuse and neglect in Maine and elsewhere. The State of Maine has established special procedures for bringing an abuse or negligence claim against a nursing home. If you suspect a friend or loved one was the victim of neglect or abuse while residing in a Maine long-term care facility, you should discuss your concerns with a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect attorney.

If you lost a family member as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse, do not hesitate to call Briggs & Wholey, LLC toll free at (888) 596-1099. The hardworking Maine nursing home negligence lawyers at Briggs & Wholey have more than 50 years of combined experience representing the families of elderly and disabled individuals who were mistreated, neglected, or killed by someone who was tasked with providing their care. At Briggs & Wholey, our dedicated attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have and help you file your nursing home neglect case. Our capable lawyers help senior clients and their loved ones receive the compensation they deserve throughout the State of Maine. To schedule a free consultation with a diligent attorney, please contact Briggs & Wholey, LLC through our website.

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Police Claim Livermore Falls Teen Killed in Single-Vehicle Crash in Jay Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, February 16, 2013

Additional Resources:

Chronic underfunding means short staffing for Maine nursing homes, by Susan M. Cover, Portland Press Herald

Photo credit: barky, Stock.xchng