Cost of living increase for Medicaid could be on the way

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Should Gov. Scott sign or veto the Medicaid COLA increase passed by the legislature?

The state legislature has approved a $35.4 million increase to the Medicaid monthly spending allowance that would allow recipients to pay for things like a new haircut or shoes.

Total Votes: 73

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Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 10:31 am

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Florida Governor Rick Scott has a lot to consider when it comes to approving the state's $77 billion budget. Among the items: a personal spending increase for Medicaid patients.

In today’s economy, the small monthly personal spending allowance for long-term nursing home residents on Medicaid barely covers necessities, let alone small luxury items that could bring comfort to the more than 40,000 Floridians, including those in our community benefitting from an increase.

Getting a haircut is routine for most people, but for many Suncoast nursing home residents on Medicaid, it's out of their budget. They've been limited for a number of years to $35 a month.

What does $35 a month get you? “Not too much; I mean, when you think of the cost of living going up at least 3% a year, and this having not changed for over a decade,” says Administrator of Pines of Sarasota Nina Amaral.

She says it doesn’t even allow them to buy a shirt, a tie or underwear, when you think about it. “That hardly pays for cost of telephone, and for TV.”

Joann Westbrook, director of Pines Education Institute, says the $70 a month increase in personal monthly spending allowance offers residents opportunities to enjoy more amenities. “One of the things that we're very excited about is that we do have a wonderful beauty salon that our residents love.”

There's an extra charge for the full service salon. “Cuts, perms and color, and for the ladies and for the gentlemen.”

But part of what that money will help them do, she says, is give them the ability to also purchase necessities, including those benefitting their health and well being. “Their eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental visits also are very expensive, so having that extra money, very powerful, very helpful.”

So how does Florida compares to other states? “Other states have always had a higher income for their residents. Down here of course it matters, they say the cost of living is less in Florida? But, we're not talking about living a high lifestyle here. We're talking about the basics.”

The more than $35 million increase to raise the monthly personal spending allowance is approved by the state legislature and is awaiting Governor Rick Scott’s action before June 4th.

The allowance increase will allow residents on Medicaid some dignity and other choices to buy other things they need.

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1 comment:

  • December Rose posted at 10:57 pm on Thu, May 29, 2014.

    December Rose Posts: 1

    I would like to suggest that the wording of your survey is already biased against the allowance, as you have worded the second choice in such a way as to mislead your readers into thinking that this allowance is being paid for by the state of Florida. In fact, the allowance comes out of money that nursing home residents have typically earned over their years of employment from social security that they are entitled to. Their social security check goes to the nursing home and the state Medicaid program pays the balance. So far, they have been allowed to keep $35 a month of their own income. How would the readers who voted against this like to be in a nursing home and be allowed to keep only $35 a month of their income, and expect to be able to do or get anything with that? They could not even go out to a meal or an occasional event. Yes, it would cost the state more in helping to subsidize nursing home residents cost of room and board, but don't tell your readers that Medicaid is paying for their monthly allowance - that allowance is money most of them earned and deserve to keep so that they might have a little something to look forward to in their last years of life. I have worked with nursing home residents for the past 25 years, and seen first hand what it is like to live in a nursing home. It is a crying shame that they are allowed to keep so little of what they have worked for. Shame on anyone who would deny these individuals what little bit of comfort they might have in their final months or years!

     

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