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Hawaiian Lawmakers OK LTC Bills

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The Hawaiian Legislature has sent the state’s governor, Neil Abercrombie, two bills that could affect people who need long-term care.

One bill, S.B. 2779, would appropriate $1.4 million to create aging and disability resource centers in each county, to help older adults with disabilities and their caregivers get easier, “one-stop shop” access to information and services.

The other bill, S.B. 2466, would increase funding for Hawaii’s QUESTMedicaid managed program by imposing a “provider fee” of up to 4% on health care items and services provided by private hospitals and large nursing homes, according to the bill text. The QUEST program would use the fee revenue to increase nursing home reimbursement rates for the low-income QUEST plan enrollees who need long-term care.

The bill would exempt many facilities, such as nursing homes with 28 or fewer licensed beds and state-owned nursing homes, from the fee requirement.

Abercrombie has not yet signed S.B. 2779, but he noted that it was part of his own package of legislative proposals in a recent bill signing announcement.

Abercrombie did not mention S.B. 2466.

The Hawaii Department of Human Services supports the idea of imposing the Medicaid managed care program provider fee, because states that impose provider fees can get extra federal Medicaid matching funds, Patricia McManaman, the director of the department, said in written testimony submitted to state lawmakers in March.

Hawaii has been one of only four U.S. states without a Medicaid provider fee funding mechanism, according to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Honolulu, a group that represents hospitals, nursing homes and home health care agencies.

The association said it supports the concept of adding a provider fee but wants program designers to try to minimize the effects of the fee on providers’ cash flow. In Hawaii, the association said, Medicaid has been paying $7 to $8 less than the actual cost of caring for a patient per day.