Budget Cuts Could Close Nursing Homes

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - State budget cuts that passed the House on Sunday include a 10% cut to Medicaid providers, one example of which are nursing homes.

A 10% cut doesn't sound bad, but when it comes to Medicaid, nursing homes will also be receiving an extra 20% cut from matched federal dollars.

That's 30%, and that could lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs and beds in nursing homes in the Midland/Odessa area if the budget stays the way it is.

There are more than 1,000 nursing homes in the state of Texas and 70% of their beds are housed by Medicaid residents.

According to data collected by the Texas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, if the 30% cut goes through, 12 nursing homes in the Midland/Odessa area will close.

That's more than 900 jobs lost in the Basin and another 900+ residents without their care.

The question is: Where do they go from there?

NewsWest 9 spoke with one Midland nursing home director, who was in Austin a couple months ago, speaking with legislators.

"That's a repercussion that the state politicians don't seem to be worried about," Alan Hale, Executive Director of Manor Park, Inc. Retirement Community, said. "One of the answers I got was 'it is what it is.'"

Hale said even one resident left out of a home is one too many.

"Residents apparently go out on the street," Hale said. "And we hope the state will find some way to care for them, or protect them, or shelter them."

Another nursing home, Deerings Nursing and Rehabilitation in Odessa, told NewsWest 9 they might have to cut their staff.

They're afraid that will lead to less attention to the residents, less benefits for other employees and less transportation for residents to their doctors.

"Residents have to wait longer to get their call-out answered," Deerings Administrator, David Barnard, said. "They have to wait longer to have someone help them to the bathroom. Maybe it's we have to be more selective with what we can allow for them to go and get specialized treatment."

That's not good news for the more than 100 residents at Deerings needing rest and rehabilitation.

One resident told NewsWest 9, Deerings helped her walk again after breaking her right femur.

"I came in here not able to do anything," Jacqueline Boultinghouse, said. "I had lost much muscle mass. Now I can get myself up out of the wheelchair on my own because they have given me such good rehabilitation."

Last year, Deerings had a 52% discharge rate of getting people healed up and back to their homes, but administrators worry that with these cuts, they won't have the resources to continue that kind of help.

"That only happens when you've got a good rehab staff and a good nursing staff and everyone works together and it's great teamwork," Barnard said. "If people are getting their wages cut and they're losing benefits and they're having to do with less, how well is that attitude going to stay up and how great is that teamwork going to be?"

Both Manor Park and Deerings Nursing and Rehabilitation said they're not in danger of closing.

That budget still must go through the Texas Senate.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home and want to know how the cuts would affect their home, you're advised to contact the directors of the homes.