Nursing Home Industry Warns Of Negative Effect From House Finance Budget

Jun 11, 2018

Budget documents in the House Finance Committee.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

An advocate for nursing homes is warning of dire effects from the budget passed late Friday by the House Finance Committee.

Virginia Burke, president of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, said the budget includes an 8.5 percent cut for nursing homes, the equivalent of about $30 million.

"To take 8.5 percent away from their revenues, that's going to be devastating," Burke told RIPR. "There will be places that have to close. The places that can keep their doors open will have massive layoffs, they won't be able to pay their vendors."

There was no immediate comment from House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's office about Burke's comments.

The move impacting nursing homes comes amid an ongoing fight with the state over past funding cuts.

Burke said the state owes nursing homes $16 million in retroactive Medicaid pay for the last two fiscal years and could owe another $8 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The state is trying to appeal a judge's decision over nursing home payments; a temporary stay is in place until Wednesday.

Elsewhere, the legislative budget passed late Friday night by the Rhode Island House Finance Commitee is drawing a mix of praise and criticism.

Mike Raia, communications director for Gov. Gina Raimondo, said the governor and her staff are still reviewing the revised spending plan.

"The House proposal includes the governor’s once-in-a-generation investment to fix our school buildings, expands services for kids in foster care, solidifies the effective and innovative Real Jobs program for years to come, and preserves the governor’s effective approach to job creation and economic development. She will continue to meet with and discuss the budget with House leaders in anticipation of Friday’s floor debate."

Brandon Bell, chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, offered a more critical view of the $9.55B budget passed by House Finance, on a 15-3 vote. He objected in part to new sales taxes on armorer car services some online business software services

“This budget means taxes, gimmicks, and retaliation. Because the new budget increases spending by $317 million over last year’s budget, Mattiello and Raimondo worked together in this budget to expand the sales tax, and to rely on gimmicks like scooping and using 911 fees," Bell said in a statement.

On Friday, Mattiello praised the budget passed by the Finance Committee, pointing to how it continues a phaseout of the car tax, avoids broad-based tax increases, restored $18 million for human services, and gives voters the chance to steer $250 million in borrowing to statewide school repairs.

“I’m proud of this budget," Mattiello said Friday. "We worked very hard to live within our means and avoid increasing the burdens on taxpayers, while investing in jobs and education, and helping people on Medicaid, seniors and the developmentally disabled. It’s a realistic, responsible budget, and it maintains our commitment to phasing out the automobile excise tax, which I know is important to our state’s taxpayers."

At 3 pm Tuesday, Mattiello and Finance Chairman Marvin Abney are slated to brief rank and file House members on the budget.

The full House is slated to begin its consideration of the budget Friday afternoon.