The Rising Issue of Underfunded Nursing Homes

nursing homes

As of 2019, there were nearly 2 million Americans who permanently live in a nursing home. Almost all of them, need serious commitments and decisions to be made for them to stay. Long term care is a ridiculously expensive financial cost. Add that to the emotions involved around the whole situation, and you can see why it is so stressful. With nursing home resources becoming more and more in demand, it is getting harder and harder to find good nursing homes that have availability close to family.

Many of these families now have to decide whether the quality of their loved ones’ care outweighs the trauma and stress of sending them to a better facility, sometimes hundreds of miles away.

With facilities around most of rural America facing serious hardships, many of which are leading to permanent closure, the problem of underfunded nursing homes is one we really need to address. Reports on nursing homes around the country that have closed show that over 95% of these closures were due to financial problems.

This not only affects the families who now have to travel hundreds of miles to see relatives, but it is also leaving hundreds of well-trained care nurses out of jobs. 

The main culprit in all of this seems to be insufficient Medicare and Medicaid funding. Medicaid pays for nearly 70% of nursing home patients and around 20% of assisted living residents. However, there is no Medicaid funding providing nurses with specialist skills that a patient might need. 

Just in Iowa alone, more than 380 nursing homes accept patients who are funding by Medicaid and Medicare. However, the meager budgets provided by these services are forcing nursing homes to close and the remaining ones, to be running under-budget. On average, every single Medifunded nursing home patient is underfunded by $10,000 dollars a year.

Nursing homes all across the country are screaming for help. They are all determined to provide the care that is expected of them. It is an absolute travesty that they are not able to do so due to underfunding. Medicaid and Medicare, need to take a serious look at their funding and how they are affecting not just thousands of nursing home patients, but their families and the employees that look after them.

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There is a vicious cycle when it comes to funding from Medicare and Medicaid. To survive every year, they need to be as cost-effective as possible with the funds they receive from the government. To be cost-effective they need to decrease costs. To do that they need to reduce staff or supplies, which, in turn, reduces the quality of care. The problem doesn’t lie solely with Medicare, but with government funding in general. 

Perhaps if we spent less time spending money on weapons and consumerism, we might actually be able to save the lives and hardships of the families that make up our once great country, but until then, I feel the nursing home crisis, is only going to worsen. 


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