More states are using Medicaid to help nursing homes handle additional costs during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure residents remain safe, according to LeadingAge. 

The association of mainly nonprofit providers recently detailed in a blog post state actions taken to provide financial support and additional relief to providers. It said that most states have used the Medicaid state plan amendment process to secure rate increases for operators. 

“It is notable that Medicaid historically has not paid nursing homes (or other aging services providers) for the full cost of care to the people they serve. This shortfall in Medicaid rates likely exacerbated the financial strain on Medicaid providers like nursing homes as the pandemic began and underscores the need for enhanced federal and state support to this group,” LeadingAge wrote.

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California and Indiana are among the states that have implemented Medicaid rate increases for nursing homes. California officials announced on May 13 that it received approval for a uniform rate increase of 10% for nursing homes — effective March 1 and through the end of the public health crisis. 

Indiana raised nursing facility rates by 4.2%. The state also announced an additional 2% rate increase for states that attest to COVID-19 readiness, which was effective May 1 and will continue on a rolling basis. Additionally, facilities that attest to readiness will receive an additional $115 per diem for residents who are COVID-19 positive.

Among other states, Maine officials recently announced a $10.1 million fund to support congregate care settings, including nursing homes, for services delivered between March and May. In Montana, providers are being issued additional supplemental payments for Medicaid residents. The payments are an additional $40 per person per day based on claims between March and June.

And in Pennsylvania, providers recently praised state lawmakers after the State Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that provides more than $500 million in emergency funding for operators. 

Meanwhile, nationally, House Democrats recently passed a $3 trillion stimulus package that would raise the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) by 14% and allocate $500 million for states to create nursing homes strike teams to help manage coronavirus outbreaks. The bill is not expected to pass in the Senate.