New Hampshire proposes reducing nursing home population

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The number of nursing home residents in New Hampshire may be drastically reduced if the state Medicaid program approves of the proposals.

Gov. Craig Benson has proposed reducing the state's nursing home population by 30% over the next give years to save $337 million. The savings would be used for developing adult day-care centers and hospices.

According to the proposal sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, people would be moved out of nursing homes and into home-based and community care services. The current state practice is to place any elderly person sick or poor enough in a state nursing home.

If the new proposal were approved, the state would screen all nursing home applicants to determine whether their family members should pay part of the costs. Right now, the assets of relatives are not taken into consideration.

The report says the first year of changes could cost the state several million dollars but that the savings could reach $100 million a year within the first five years. No details were provided about how the Medicaid budget would be affected.