A Florida group is pushing back on a federal Medicaid proposal, that among other things, would to charge nursing homes a new bed tax.
Residents at these facilities would pay about $1,000 more a year if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposal goes into effect later this year. An extended public comment period ended Feb. 1.
Most of the people who would pay this tax don't qualify for Medicaid, said Bennett Napier, executive director of the Florida Life Care Residents Association (FLiCRA).
"These are people who have retired, obviously, and are on fixed incomes and certainly not planning to have a, on average, $1,000 tax bill just show up on their doorstep," Napier said.
This proposal contradicts a 2009 Florida law that authorized a tax on every nursing-home resident whose care is not funded by Medicare.
Florida nursing homes with fewer than 45 beds, and nursing homes located in continuing care retirement communities, are currently exempt from the state law, according to reporting from the News Service of Florida.
But FLiCRA members say the new Medicaid rule will force Florida lawmakers to either repeal that 2009 law - or its exemptions.
Residents in continuing care retirement communities generally pay out of pocket and are not eligible for Medicaid, Napier said. That's why the Florida Legislature granted those bed tax exceptions to begin with, she said.
Diane Dalsimer, FLiCRA president, said Florida and 18 other states have laws exempting continued care retirement communities from the tax.
“And this ruling coming from the agency from CMS requires that all these states repeal those exemptions,” Dalsimer said. “Either the state gives up the exemption or they give up their Medicaid reimbursement monies, which nobody can afford to give up.”
Dalsimer, who lives in the John Knox Village retirement community in Pompano Beach, said this fee would be taxation without representation for many residents.
"Because of the plan they've made to live in these communities, they are highly unlikely to need the aid of Medicaid going forward,” Dalsimer said. “Which means that the money that they would be taxed to pay into the system would not help support them in their old age."
Dalsimer said the association is asking CMS to find another way to support Medicaid, instead of burdening retirees who have already paid their way for care.
Another group, the Florida Health Care Association, estimates the proposed changes could jeopardize more than $600 million in Medicaid funding for the state’s nursing-home industry.
“We're frightened, frankly, that this is going to be very damaging if it goes into effect,” Dalsimer said. “And if it goes into effect now without any response, it will be almost impossible to undo down the road with legislation.”
She said about 31,000 people in Florida will be affected by this proposal.