March 19, 2018; WBBT (Richmond, VA)
Earlier this week, we reported on the closing of a 30-year-old program in California that provided home health care. Officials in that program said they were not able to attract staff because the rates driven by Medicaid and Medicaid for those services were insufficient to retain a workforce in a good jobs market. Now, a 50-year-old Virginian nonprofit, A Grace Place, which serves 150 adults with special needs every day, is also closing, citing a recent reduction in reimbursement rates.
Interim CEO Lynne Seward says, “Unfortunately, because the [Medicaid] rates have not increased and our expenses have, it made it very difficult to keep the business going.” She also cites an “increase in regulatory requirements.”
“We really have a society that we really need to take care of,” she says. “These are the adults that are the most vulnerable, and I ask the agencies out there, open your doors to our people; we will help you every step of the way.”
Seward says she hopes this story will help lawmakers and voters change their minds about Medicaid.
Louis Michaux, a Richmonder who struggled with cerebral palsy, founded the program in 1967, and since then it has provided an array of caregivers, doctors, therapists, case managers, nurses, and social workers for those with a constellation of needs. It is not yet clear where the clients will go to be served, since the funding will present the same problems anywhere. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services says it’s working closely with A Grace Place to give it the support necessary to help provide a smooth transition for its clients receiving Medicaid.
NPQ has been warning about the impending workforce crisis in this expanding field for a number of years. The aging of the baby boomer generation creates a draw on the caregiver profession that it cannot, under current systems, fill. Were these two back-to-back failures mere coincidence, or are we seeing the beginning of system-wide closures?—Ruth McCambridge