OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill that would provide financial incentives to nursing homes that improve the quality of care for residents is headed to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk.
The Senate and House on Wednesday passed Senate Bill 280, by Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer.
“Nationally, we rank toward the bottom in the quality of care for seniors in our nursing homes,” Simpson said. “The objective of the bill is to, No. 1, improve quality of care in our centers and doing that through an incentive program that incentivizes nursing homes to provide quality care.”
The bill would create a new system of quality improvement benchmarks that will be updated regularly.
They include reducing bed sores, reducing urinary tract infections, reducing the use of antipsychotic medications and reducing weight loss.
The measure would tie funding to those benchmarks.
It also would provide funding for increased direct care staffing and would increase residents’ personal needs allowance to $75 a month from $50.
Additionally, it would increase the mandatory training about Alzheimer’s and dementia for all clinical staff to a minimum of four hours a year.
It also would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to develop metrics to measure the performance of nursing homes, Simpson said.
“Based upon their performance, they can receive an enhanced reimbursement provider rate for caring for our seniors,” Simpson said.
The measure would cost about $34 million, which would be covered by current appropriations and federal funds, he said.
The measure was backed by a coalition of supporters, including AARP Oklahoma, the Oklahoma chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Care Providers of Oklahoma, the Alliance on Aging, the Oklahoma Nurses Association and the Oklahoma Silver-Haired Legislature Alumni Association.
“Senate Bill 280 is an important first step in improving our rankings in quality of care, and we look forward to building upon this important work to ensure our nursing home residents receive the care they deserve,” said Chad Mullen, AARP Oklahoma associate state director for advocacy.
“The Legislature has delivered and fully funded an incredibly important reform package that will directly improve the quality of life for thousands of nursing home residents,” said Nico Gomez, president and CEO of Care Providers of Oklahoma, which represents nursing homes. “Senate Bill 280 will also help to prevent future home closures, which are enormously disruptive to the lives of our residents and rural communities.
“We are humbled our lawmakers have made this investment and are committed to making sure that it results in a higher standard of living for our seniors and individuals with disabilities.”
Chief Photographer Tom Gilbert went up in a helicopter to show what the flooding looked like on Wednesday afternoon on May 22.