LITIGATION Nursing home lobby sues state over budget

The changes were requested without public input, a federal violation.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- The state's biggest nursing home lobby on Wednesday sued two Ohio agencies over changes the new two-year budget makes in the way nursing homes are paid under a federal-state formula.
The Ohio Health Care Association, which represents almost 750 long-term care entities, filed the suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Department of Health.
It asks the court to stop the new payment system in the $51 billion budget. In past years, the nursing homes simply billed the state for services, but now the state determines the costs, based on industry standards. It also asks the court to stop the health department's new practice of withholding Medicaid payments for new patients at nursing homes that have been told their license to operate is being revoked.
New plan
The new formula doesn't reimburse nursing homes for the costs of new construction or maintaining existing homes, said Peter Van Runkle, the association's president. The state now pays a flat $12 a day per nursing home bed, while in past years the formula could reach $20 a bed to compensate for additional costs.
The Department of Job and Family Services asked for the changes without public input, in violation of federal law, the lawsuit said.
Job and Family Services spokesman Jon Allen said the goal of the change was to take more control of Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor.
"It's ironic that Pete's part of a group that's fought forever to keep the cost set in statute," Allen said. "The General Assembly agreed to get the costs focused on serving people instead of on bricks and mortar."
Health department spokesman Jay Carey said nursing homes whose licenses were being revoked for abuse or neglect would still get payments for existing patients but not for new ones. The homes can appeal the revocation through the department or at the federal level, he said.

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