By the numbers, Oklahoma nursing homes are in sorry shape.
Oklahoma leads the nation in the portion of its nursing home population being treated with antipsychotic drugs, despite never being diagnosed as psychotic.
Only one state has a higher portion of its high-risk nursing home patients with pressure sores.
And Oklahoma ranks near the bottom of other objective measures of the quality of nursing home life — including urinary tract infections and unintended weight loss.
It’s a lousy way to treat our sick and elderly.
A coalition of nursing home owners and respected advocacy groups — including AARP Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Nurses Association, the state Council on Aging and LeadingAge Oklahoma — have recognized that improving those statistics will require more money, but that money alone fixes nothing.
The Oklahoma Nursing Home Quality Assurance Initiative — House Bill 1902 and Senate Bill 280 — would use pay-for-performance funding to promote improvements on critical quality-of-life measures. An additional state investment of $13 million a year would be leveraged against federal matching money to close the gap between how much it costs to run a quality nursing home and how much the state pays through its Medicaid program.
To get the optimum amount of money, nursing homes would have to show they are doing the job right, with objective statistical evidence and enhanced state oversight to back up those claims.
More money would allow nursing homes to pay their staff better, reduce turnover and, thus, improve patient care.
Oklahoma’s Medicaid program reimburses nursing homes at the rate of $150 per-patient-day, about $23 less than the true cost of quality care, nursing home owners say. The Oklahoma Nursing Home Assurance Initiative is a low-cost way to improve the lives of Oklahoma’s elderly and disabled, and we support it.