New Hampshire’s nursing homes, which have been on the block since 2015 dawned for a potential $7 million payment cut, are now fighting back.

Heavy winter storms on Monday forced nursing home industry representatives to cancel a press conference with lawmakers at the state capitol, but they have a strong advocate in Senate Finance Chairman Jeanie Forrester, who introduced a bill last week to prevent the cuts.

On January 1, the state’s nursing homes were surprised when they received their first reimbursement checks, which were lower than expected. On January 23, facilities learned why upon being told that Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas asked the Legislative Fiscal Committee to transfer $7 million in unspent funds to help cover a $58 million shortfall in the department’s budget. The shortfall was reportedly caused, in part, by an unexpected swell in the Medicaid rolls due to the Affordable Care Act expansion.

“I really think we have a very good chance of overturning [the proposal],” John Poirier, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, told McKnight’s late Wednesday. “We’re in a biennial budget year here right now and this is something the budget process may address.” 

Poirier added that a separate appeal of the nursing home rate calculation is also underway. And, he said, a “lawsuit isn’t off the table.”

State rules have allowed unspent nursing home dollars to be distributed to facilities each year in the form of higher reimbursements. Poirier told reporters that even the additional $7 million would have still fallen short of meeting the facilities’ actual costs.

If the $7 million in cuts proceed, smaller facilities could lose anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 each, Poirier said.