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PROPOSED CUTS COULD DEVASTATE ELDERLY IN STATE

 PROPOSED CUTS COULD DEVASTATE ELDERLY IN STATE
 SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Proposals to cut


state aid for long-term nursing care could displace more than 60,000 low-income elderly and invalid Californians, according to the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF).
 One proposal, part of a state Department of Health Services plan to reach a targeted 15 percent budget cut, would limit Medi-Cal nursing home care to 240 days per year. Ronald M. Kurtz, executive vice president in CAHF, said more than 60,000 Medi-Cal patients spend more than 240 days per year in long-term care facilities. This proposal is estimated to save more than $129 million in state funds, but would devastate the dependent elderly.
 "Where would these frail, elderly residents go?" said Kurtz. "They are not able to care for themselves and more than 50 percent of them have no families that could provide the needed medical care."
 One option would be to return the patients to acute-care hospitals, Kurtz said. But the cost of acute-care hospitals are significantly higher -- up to 10 times more than nursing facilities -- which would create an even greater burden on the state budget. And a budget proposal is already being discussed to limit Medi-Cal hospital stays to 60 days per year.
 "Long-term facilities are California's safety net for the elderly with severe medical problems who have little, if any, money," Kurtz said. "Although we realize this is one proposal of many that the Administration and the Legislature can choose from, it is our duty to let elected and public officials know that a 240-day limitation is unrealistic."
 Another even more drastic proposal being considered would "dump" thousands of nursing home residents by eliminating Medi-Cal eligibility for most nursing home residents. This proposal to save $841 million in state funds is under consideration today at the Legislature's Health and Welfare Work Group.
 Preliminary indications are that most of the state's nearly 65,000 Medi-Cal nursing home residents would be adversely affected by this proposal. It is unclear from the proposal where these elderly and disabled Californians would go.
 "What the State is considering is no less than Granny Dumping. We are sympathetic to the severity of the State's budget problems, but we cannot stand by while care for the elderly and disabled is threatening to collapse. This would be absolutely devastating to California's frail elderly, leaving them abandoned and without vital medical care," said Kurtz.
 The governor's budget prior to these two recently disclosed proposals had already included cuts of $27.9 million for long-term care. As an alternative, CAHF has developed its own plan to save more than $100 million a year for the Medi-Cal program.
 The $100 million in savings would come from enhanced recovery of Medi-Cal payments, managed growth in nursing facility beds and conforming California Law with federal eligibility determinations.
 In early May, Gov. Pete Wilson promised to "seriously consider" CAHF's proposals as his Administration works with the legislative leadership to balance the budget. Several of CAHF's proposals have found their way into proposed budget changes.
 -0- 6/15/92
 NOTE: The California Association of Health Facilities is a non-profit, professional association dedicated to improving health care for the elderly and disabled. CAHF membership of more than 950 licensed long-term care facilities provide skilled nursing, intermediate and residential care. More than 100,000 California residents are served by these facilities and more than 100,000 persons are employed by them.
 /CONTACT: Kathy Daigle of CAHF, 916/371-4700/ CO: California Association of Health Facilities ST: California IN: HEA SU:


MC -- SF009 -- 0393 06/15/92 18:07 EDT
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Date:Jun 15, 1992
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