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Schaer Questions Christie Administration on Solvency of NJ’s Nursing Homes

Urges Administration to do More to Monitor Fiscal Health of these Critical Facilities

During an Assembly Budget Committee hearing Wednesday that focused on human services and Medicaid issues, Assembly Budget Committee Vice-Chair Gary S. Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic) questioned the Christie administration on the solvency of New Jersey’s nursing homes and urged the state to do more to ward off a crisis.

“The issue of nursing homes and the care they deliver to our most fragile and vulnerable residents is extremely personal to me,” said Schaer, whose mother resides in a nursing home to receive care for both Alzheimer’s and dementia. “Right now my paramount concern is to make sure that we don’t lose critical facilities that are serving people who have no choice but to be in them.

“Considering that 180 of the 359 nursing home facilities in our state reported that Medicaid is a big source of revenue for them, I’m extremely concerned about the level of reimbursement many facilities are receiving and whether the administration is doing enough to monitor their fiscal condition to determine whether or not we’re driving them to the precipice.

“For example, Cheshire Home in Florham Park, which I visited awhile ago, testified before our committee that their reimbursement rate has been frozen for six years and they’ve been forced to cover the gap by tapping into their endowment, which, at this rate, will no longer exist in two and a half years,” said Schaer.

With this in mind, Schaer urged the Christie administration to do more to monitor fiscal conditions at nursing homes similar to the way the state monitors financial conditions at hospitals.

“We do financial surveys on hospitals so it only seems natural that if we’re providing funding to nursing homes as well then we should be surveying them too. We need to know if these facilities can survive. If I were losing money year after year, I’d want to get out of this business fast. I don’t know how the state can come up with a ‘model’ to reimburse these facilities if we’re not tracking this information. As it stands now, some facilities are benefiting more and some are receiving less than they need. We don’t want to find out that there’s a crisis in our facilities when it’s too late.

“At the end of the day we’re looking at people, not just numbers, and their lives hang in the hands of these numbers,” added Schaer.