SUBMITTED BY JANET CORNELL
MILLBROOK HOMES ASSISTED LIVING ADMINISTRATOR
Families choose assisted living when a loved one needs long-term care. But the many varied options that exist may soon be lost. Proposed regulations will change the face of assisted living in Colorado, forcing many residents who live in small residential homes, known as group homes, to pay more or risk being discharged to a facility that accepts Medicaid.
By 2030, Colorado’s senior population is projected to increase by over a half million people, or 68 percent to 1.3 million. At the time of this writing, industry representatives have indicated that more than 500 beds will be closed before the proposed rules go into effect later this summer.
Most small group homes charge less than large facilities. Based on the proposed rules, costs for residents may increase $600 to $1,200 per month. Those people on fixed incomes cannot absorb the increase costs and will be required to find alternate housing arrangements, most likely a nursing home. Relocating a senior is heart breaking for families and very disruptive for the senior.
Many small homes accept the PACE program, most commonly known as InnovAge in Denver or Medicaid. Six assisted living residences have announced closures as of July 1, 2018, many of them with Medicaid beds.
As small businesses review their midyear budgets, more closures are expected, especially those serving mentally ill or frail seniors on Medicaid. Low income seniors as well as others will be asked to relocate.
The proposed regulations will create barriers for new companies to enter the marketplace, which in turn will negatively affect the supply of beds at a time when those 65+ is ever growing. Some investors in Boulder have already pulled out of projects. The proposed regulations will make it almost impossible for small group homes of eight beds or less to open.
The proposed rules are poorly written, ambiguous and riddled with inconsistencies. The goal of the proposed rules is to improve the care and safety of the residents. However, residents who are a danger to self or others or who have dementia and wander cannot be placed in a secure assisted living home immediately because of the way the proposed regulations are written. The only choice will be to move them to a nursing home.
Smaller group homes will have problems complying with the increased oversight. Training costs for employees will more than triple. Proposed license renewal fees paid to the state will more than double. These increases in operating costs must be passed onto the consumer. Residents who are private pay will exhaust their money quicker than expected and will also be forced into the Medicaid system.
So, one must ask, is the State of Colorado Health Department aware of these issues? The department has been advised more than 14 times by people in the industry of the negative impact on small business and consumers. The department is not taking into account the impact that the changes will have on older adults and the chronically mentally ill who need assisted living, putting many of them at risk of losing both the place they now call home and critical services to remain in the community.
What can be done at this point? Email or call Randy Kuykendall the department director at 303-692-2836 or email@example.com. You are also highly encouraged to call, write or email your legislator and tell them your concerns.
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