Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord today introduced legislation in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee aimed at protecting funding for the needs of elderly nursing home residents. SB 164 seeks to preserve the level of funding for the “personal needs allowance” of nursing home residents by setting a base amount – not to be decreased — allotted to each senior Medicaid recipient approved for nursing home payments.
“As I visited with seniors at nursing homes around my district this issue was raised time and time again,” said Larsen. “I think it is imperative that we make a strong statement that we will preserve the levels of funding for the needs of our seniors even in these difficult economic times.”
Current state law directs the Commissioner of Health and Human Services to authorize Medicaid recipients residing in nursing homes to retain a portion of their monthly income as a “personal needs allowance.” The amount has a current minimum base rate of $56 per month, an amount set in 2005. Statute allows for the Commissioner by rule to increase the amount every five years. The personal needs allowance currently sits at $65 per month. SB 164 seeks to codify that new rate and set the current minimum base rate at $65 into law.
“When you consider the costs of even basic minimal expenses these days – a haircut, a daily newspaper, and phone service – $2.19 per day hardly covers the basics,” added Larsen. “While current economic circumstances make it difficult to increase the amount set aside for personal needs, this bill would ensure that we keep our promise to seniors in nursing homes across the state. Passing SB 164 requires no additional state money but guarantees we will not reduce the funding we provide to our senior nursing home residents.”