Contributed photo
Manchester Manor (Contributed photo)

Lawmakers were surprised to learn this week that the $13 million increase in nursing home funds approved last June has yet to be dispersed to about 230 nursing homes.

In order to avoid a strike last year, lawmakers approved additional money for wage enhancements for both union and non-union nursing homes.

Initially, the amount of money going to 60 union nursing homes was much larger than the amount that was headed to 170 non-union nursing homes. However, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration reversed course after the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities warned that it would be illegal to do that with federal funds.

Confronted last week by an administrator from a nursing home in Windsor, Malloy said he was unaware of the issue.

Malloy’s Office of Policy and Management said the Department of Social Services is in the process of adjusting the rates based on the cost reports provided by the nursing homes.

A spokesman for the Department of Social Services said they’ve received information from 70 percent of the nursing homes, but there’s no clear time from for when the money will be paid.

A labor settlement may restrict the department from setting a time frame for all the homes to submit their wage enhancements and the department wants to ensure it doesn’t exceed the budgeted amount.

Rep. Catherine Abercrombie, D-Meriden, who co-chairs the Human Services Committee, said they just learned of the situation and will be looking into it to make sure the nursing homes get the money.

In the meantime, nursing home workers who have been counting on the raises continue to hound their bosses about when they will see a boost in their pay.

Tom Russo, an administrator at Kimberly Hall which is owned by Genesis Healthcare, said many employees have asked their supervisors about when they are going to see their wages increased.

Russo said they aren’t allowed to release these wages to the workers until the state pays them the money.

While nursing homes weren’t necessarily impacted by Malloy’s most recent budget proposal, a report by the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century, found that Connecticut could save $657 million by 2025 if the state continues its policy of reducing institutionalized long-term healthcare services.

The percentage of patients receiving home care services has increased from 53 percent to 60 percent relative to those utilizing institutional care since 2009, the report released Wednesday said.

The state’s goal is to have 75 percent of long-term care patients in non-institutional settings by 2025, which would save the state $657 million between now and then, the report said.

Barrett said while his association supports the state’s nursing home rightsizing and rebalancing objectives, he cautioned about undervaluing the importance of skilled nursing facilities in the long term care continuum of care. He said that Connecticut has one of the oldest and fastest growing aging populations, especially the over 80 years old cohort. 

Given these dynamics, there will be strong need for both home and community based providers and skilled nursing facilitates. 

“It’s not one or the other, it’s both” Barrett said.