SB364, An Act Relative to Reserving Beds in Nursing Homes During Certain Leaves of Absence

Joint Committee on Elder Affairs

The Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA), on behalf of its member hospitals and health systems, appreciates this opportunity to offer testimony in strong support of SB364, related to preserving nursing home beds for residents who have a medical or nonmedical leave of absence.

SB364 directs MassHealth, in statute, to pay to reserve the bed of a nursing facility resident who is a MassHealth recipient for a period up to twenty days if that resident enters a hospital. It also directs MassHealth to pay to reserve the bed of a nursing facility resident who is a MassHealth recipient for a period up to ten days if that resident leaves the nursing home for non-medical reasons.

The language in this legislation is consistent with provisions adopted in line item 4000-0600 in the FY16 budget (Chapter 46 of the Acts of 2015). However, as you know, line-item budgetary provisions carry force for only the particular fiscal year. Placing this important provision into statue will preserve this important protection for MassHealth nursing home residents and help guard against the elimination of this provision as a budgetary cost-savings measure in future years.

Bed-hold payments guarantee elders the option of returning to the same room and facility where they currently reside and receive services from a care-giving team that is familiar to the patient. The importance of such familiarity between caregiver and patient, and its affect upon cost-efficient, quality care, and comfort, particularly to our senior population, should not be underestimated. From a continuity of care perspective, providing a known and comfortable environment for nursing home residents when they return from an acute or urgent treatment is crucial to their recovery. In addition, for those residents who may often need routine tests or basic ancillary services that may result in an observation or one-day stay in the hospital, eliminating the worry that they might lose their bed (a known and comfortable environment) will reduce that individual’s anxieties and potential medical complications.

Hospital case management staffs are experiencing significant challenges finding available nursing facility beds in their local area at the time that most elders are ready to be discharged from the hospital. For those elders that have significant chronic medical and psychiatric conditions, finding an appropriate bed that can safely manage those issues is even more difficult. The ability to return to their same nursing facility, and same bed, is even more crucial for these patients.

SB364 will help ensure the best standard of care of nursing facility residents and will facilitate the appropriate placement of hospital patients. MHA respectfully urges the committee to issue this bill a favorable report.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony on this important matter. If you have any questions, or require further information, please contact Michael Sroczynski, MHA’s Vice President of Government Advocacy, at (781) 262-6055 or msroczynski@mhalink.org.