Kicking Grandma to the street

Another feature of the Republican budget.

Hundreds of nursing homes, including dozens in Dallas-Fort Worth, may close if lawmakers cut Medicaid as leaders propose, industry officials said Thursday.

Since last week, GOP leaders have introduced budgets in both chambers that would reduce by one-third the state’s budget for its 56,000 nursing home residents on Medicaid. Two-year spending would sink to $2.8 billion, from $4.2 billion.

“We are not crying wolf. Pieces of the sky are falling,” said Tim Graves, head of the Texas Health Care Association, a trade group that represents 500 nursing homes, most of them for-profit operations. He said the cuts would jeopardize about half of the state’s 1,100 nursing homes: those with 70 percent or more of patients on the Medicaid rolls.

Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, though, said he was “expecting that kind of input” and it’s why he’s opening budget hearings next week with a look at social services.

“The worst news is already out there,” said Ogden, head of the Senate Finance Committee. “Over the next few months, we’re going to try to improve it so at the end of the day, these cuts are not fatal.”

You’ll note that Sen. Ogden doesn’t make any actual commitment to keeping any of these nursing homes open, just that maybe the final budget wouldn’t suck quite as much for them. To be perfectly fair, I do believe that Sen. Ogden wants to minimize this, and that there will be plenty of support for that. But let’s not kid ourselves, the Republican Party is full of people – elected officials, outside agitators like Talmadge Heflin and Michael Quinn Sullivan, and everyday selfish types – who are perfectly happy with this state of affairs and just don’t care about the effects. When, not if, nursing homes are forced to close down because of Medicaid cuts, the responsibility for it is theirs.

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