Long Term Care Committee Examines State Funding For The Elderly
Despite the fact that the state budget will be tighter than ever for the next session, the Long Term Care Legislative Oversight Committee is looking for ways to take care of the elderly. At today's meeting December 19, 2001, in Austin each member said that long term solutions to funding were necessary.
During the opening remarks, Chairman Robert Duncan said that the committee would be investigating funding problems for both nursing homes and rural hospitals. He expects the study to be finished by next fall, in time for presentation to the 78th Legislature in January.
The first witness was Dr. Steve Murdock from the Texas State Data Center, who briefed the committee on demographic trends. One large problem facing Texas medicine is that the number of elderly is increasing as the Baby Boom generation ages. Adding that figure to an overall increase in state population means that the state faces higher funding costs for long term care in coming years. Dr. Murdock also predicted that Texas will have an increasingly elderly, non-anglo population that needs services from nursing homes as well as hospitals.
Deborah Fulton of the Texas Legislative Council then briefed the committee on SB 1839 passed by the 77th Legislature. That bill's objective was to provide nursing home residents with quality care while ensuring that the homes could get liability insurance. That has been a major issue for nursing homes in Texas over the past few years.
Nancy Millard of the Legislative Budget Board spoke about nursing home funding. During this presentation Senator Chris Harris asked for a more complete accounting of which nursing homes were on the verge of shutting down and a more complete accounting of state aid to them.
Don Warren, also of the Texas Legislative Council, spoke about the difficulties of getting proper information about nursing home residents and the performance of the facilities themselves so that needed state services can be properly targeted.
The Long Term Care Legislative Oversight committee is chaired by Senator Robert Duncan and Representative Elliott Naishtat. Members include Senators Chris Harris and Mike Moncrief, Representatives Craig Eiland and Jim McReynolds along with Ms. Pat Karrh, BSN, RN and Mr. Phil Elmore. The committee recessed subject to call of the chair.