Iowa state capitol with storm clouds in background

Iowa’s state lawmakers have agreed to a $15 million increase in overall funding for nursing homes as part of a larger budget deal. 

The state’s two largest sector advocacy groups applauded the move when asked by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News for comment, commending lawmakers for recognizing the dire situation facing facilities with workforce problems and rising costs of care.

“LeadingAge Iowa commends the Legislature for prioritizing older adults and including $15 million in the Health and Human Services Budget for Medicaid nursing facility rebasing,” said Shannon Strickler, president and CEO of LeadingAge Iowa. “This state funding, which will be matched with federal dollars through the Medicaid, will support LTC providers’ ability to attract and retain staff for this important and rewarding work caring for Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.” 

The head of Iowa Health Care Association added that the funding “will provide significant and sustained relief for Iowa long-term care providers who have been under tremendous financial pressure.”

“These actions will make a meaningful difference in protecting access to long-term care for Iowans,” said association President and CEO Brent Willett. 

Nursing homes in Iowa have operated under particularly stressful circumstances in recent years. Since February 2022, at least 17 skilled nursing facilities in the state have closed due to a combination of wage obligations and operating costs. 

In January, Willett told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that the care for Medicaid patients is underfunded by an average of $30 per day, or $10,950 per year. Rural facilities tend to care for a higher number of Medicaid beneficiaries than urban SNFs, putting their finances into a more precarious position. He said that “dozens” of nursing homes in the state have approximately two-thirds of their residents utilizing Medicaid to pay for their care. 

Earlier this month, McKnight’s reported on workforce development grants that will support more than 1,400 apprentices in Iowa to develop a pipeline of healthcare workers, particularly for nursing homes, which are struggling to meet higher wages and benefits demands from current and potential employees.