Zach Shamberg
PHCA President and CEO Zach Shamberg speaks during a press conference Thursday. Credit: PHCA Communications

After months of “sounding the alarm,” Pennsylvania’s long-term care industry will be losing one of just four facilities that provide specialized ventilator care. Officials have filed closure plans with the state, citing insufficient Medicaid funding. 

“We have continually communicated the challenges facing long-term care providers, primarily due to the underfunding of the state’s Medicaid program,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. 

“As more and more facilities may be forced to sell, change ownership or even close, Pennsylvania residents will be forced to travel farther and distances to find essential and specialized long-term care,” he added. 

His comments came during a press conference Thursday after Fox Subacute at Warrington notified residents, families and staff of a 90-day closure plan it filed with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. The state approved the closure plan on March 14. 

Fox Subacute CEO Jim Foulke said the closure stems from a lack of sufficient Medicaid funding. Nearly 100% of all the care provided by the facility is paid for through the state’s Medicaid program, according to PHCA. 

The 60-bed facility serves patients dependent on life-sustaining ventilators for short and long-term care services and is currently caring for 46 residents. Fox Subacute has four total facilities that offer specialized care and is the state’s only post-acute care provider solely specializing in ventilator care. 

“The type of care we provide is so unique, there are hardly any beds available at other facilities for our residents to transition into because providers can’t afford to offer this level of care,” Foulk said. “This is not only an access to care issue for our residents, but it will now become a greater access to care issue for all Pennsylvania residents.”

A report commissioned by LeadingAge PA in March found that the state has a Medicaid shortfall of about $86 per resident per day — with average daily expenses per resident at about $340 and average Medicaid reimbursement around $254.

PHCA noted that neighboring states reimburse post-acute care ventilator providers at higher rates. Ohio’s reimbursement is roughly $150 more per resident day and New Jersey averages around $90 more a day per resident.

Fox Subacute is working with managed care organizations to identify other specialized facilities that can help transition their current residents to continue care. 

“This closure is a prime example of what the future might hold if we don’t start making meaningful investments in Medicaid today,” Shamberg said.