BOSTON (December 7, 2017)—Five facilities have filed notice with the Massachusetts state Department of Public Health of their intent to shut down. More 1,000 residents are believed to be impacted, and 600 people will be laid off by the announced closures.
The Boston Business Journal reports that the closures come as no surprise to the state, which has experienced dwindling volume as seniors receive care in their own homes.
The Massachusetts Senior Care Association stresses that these decisions underscore an industry on the brink of collapse due largely to inadequate state Medicaid funding, and that many more closures are possible.
"It is crucial that Governor Baker and the Legislature elevate nursing facility care to a top priority," said Association President Tara Gregorio in a press release. "We fear these closures are just the beginning, as nursing facility operators and Boards of Trustees contemplate their continued ability to provide high quality care given the state's refusal to provide sufficient resources."
In October 2017, the Association wrote to Gov. Charlie Baker to implement $7.5 million in MassHealth funding for quality nursing home care that was authorized by the Legislature on September 28, as part of the FY 2018.
Nursing facility care is typically more expensive than community-based services, especially in the Commonwealth. In Massachusetts, the median annual cost in 2016 of semi-private nursing facility services (including spending from all payers) was $135,050 versus the national average of $82,125, according to the state's Trends in Spending and Care Delivery. The median cost of a full time home health aide was $57,200 annually compared to a national median of $46,332, although spending can vary widely based on the hours of care needed. However, this difference in cost between nursing facility care and community-based care is moderated by the inclusion of other medical services covered under the nursing home reimbursement.
The Massachusetts Senior Care Association advocates for passage of legislation that would provide immediate funding relief to ensure quality resident care and a living wage for frontline staff. The Association represents a diverse set of organizations that deliver a broad spectrum of services to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. Its members include more than 400 nursing and rehabilitation facilities, assisted living residences, residential care facilities and continuing care retirement communities. Mass Senior Care facilities provide housing, health care and support services to more than 150,000 people a year; employ more than 77,000 staff members; and contribute more than $4 billion annually to the Massachusetts economy.