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Nursing home payment reform clears first committee hurdle

Nursing homes would be reimbursed under a new payment methodology for providing long-term Medical Assistance care to an increasing number of aging Minnesotans, under a bill approved Wednesday by the House Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee.

Committee Chair Rep. Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) sponsors HF316 that was approved, as amended, on a 16-0 roll call vote. Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) sponsors a companion, SF273. It awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill, referred to the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee, would change the nursing home payment system from an annual rebasing model to a formula to be developed by the Department of Human Services, which would consider peer groupings and a facility’s quality score, beginning Oct. 1, 2015.

Facility peer groupings would be reduced from three to two. Facilities located in Blue Earth, Clay, Cook, Crow Wing, Kanabec, Lake, Le Sueur, McLeod, Meeker, Nicollet, Pine, Sibley and Waseca counties would join an existing peer group that includes the larger Twin Cities metropolitan counties.

Members adopted an oral amendment offered by Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) to delete a penalty repayment under the value-based nursing facility reimbursement system.

Proposed amendments offered by Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul) and Rep. Jerry Newton (DFL-Coon Rapids) that would have tied future payment increases to employee wages, or their cost of living expenses, failed on party-line roll call votes. Lillie also asked for projected financial impacts of the proposal, but Schomacker said the department needs time to prepare those numbers and that discussion will take place if and when the bill reaches the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

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