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Looming deadline could force thousands from assisted living facilities

READ MORE: Looming deadline could force thousands from assisted living facilities
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A deadline is looming that could force thousands of people living in adult care homes out on the streets. North Carolina has until April 30 to come up with a new way to distribute Medicaid payments to people living in group homes and private homes.

Nearly 130 people stay at Champions Assisted Living in New Hanover County. A handful of them could soon be searching for a new place to live.

"As a provider, we don't know what that means for us. We don't know how to prepare for it," Champions CEO Charles Long said.

Long recently learned about the federally-imposed April 30 deadline. At issue is how North Carolina distributes Medicaid payments to people who live at home but still get help with with some personal care services such as dressing and bathing versus those who live in an assisted living facility. Treating them differently violates federal rules.

"They're coming to us to say you need to have the same system for both scenarios when they approved us doing it differently 10-12 years ago, and the state is struggling to find a way to do it this time because it's like apples and oranges," said Peggy Smith with the North Carolina Assisted Living Association.

Smith says if the deadline is not extended, about 11,000 frail and elderly group home residents could be on the street.

"The bigger concern is where will they go?" Smith said. "It's one thing to discharge, which is difficult, but if you're not being paid to care for them, then you don't have a choice. In many cases, they don't have another option."

Long hopes the state will get an extension until January 1. In the meantime, his staff is letting patients and their families know what could be coming in just a few weeks.

"But we are trying not to overly excite them and letting them know we will work with them and help them find appropriate placement if we're not able to provide the service," Long said.

The state is working to get an extension. If not North Carolina group homes will lose about $414 million in Medicaid payments.

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This has been coming for sometime

I started out years ago working home health under what was known as the CAP program. Medicaid funds to pay for in home care for individuals needing ADL assistance which was CAPPED at 37.5hrs a week. Now unlike some other states (such as VA) Medicaid funds pay for assisted living care besides Long term nursing care which is inappropriate for many people. Now most people assume assisted living is only for retired people however thats not true in NC. Ive seen and worked in a few facilities (back before I became a nurse) where you had younger adults living in such facilites including some with sexual predator histories unfortunately (the state was getting away with using such facilites as half way houses) My suspicion is that this is the root of part of the problem NC has created for itself. Its also likely that this is the Feds putting the 1st squeeze on the states over Obamacare because a person who is in Assisted Living facility is likely more needy then a person who lives at home with CAP assistance. Those on CAP have family usually who works in the daytime and cares for their family member at night while those in AL do not have that luxury. The catch 22 is as the article mentions treating them different is a violation according to the Feds when in fact common sense dictates those who can be at home USUALLY are and those in AL facilities obviously need assistance 24/7 but dont rise to the need of Nursing home care. I cant tell if this is a move to force more people into Long Term Care in NC by the Feds or not. I hope not because all it will do is increase costs and believe me there arent enough LTC beds in this local area to cover those who would have to be upgraded in care levels if this isnt resolved. Not to mention most LTC facilities prefer not to have a majority of medicaid beds because it just kills budgeting as the margin to even break even is damaged as cost to care and staffing requirements are higher for LTC vs Assisted Living in NC (Med Tech CNAs are allowed to be primary care and medication assistance in Assisted Living while the laws are very specific that in LTC you must have one LPN and that its very limited the ability to use Med Tech CNAs as CNAs are primarily relegated back to Personal care. Not to mention charting requirements for LTC for Medicaid/Medicare is much more extensive then is required for Asst Living.. Asst Living requires paperwork that legally can be completed by a supervising Nurse (usually the Health Care Director etc..) while LTC requires MDS documentation by RN staff constantly. Sure its good to have higher qualified staff available but again it increases care costs needlessly because the avg Asst Living client/resident doesnt require the same care as say a 90yr old female who requires tube feedings and turning and positioning every 2 hrs and extreme care to be monitored for skin breakdown due to severe dementia. I hope they get this situation resolved otherwise the state will see a crisis that nobody can handle and was totally avoidable

What?!

What?! This needs to be fixed NOW!!!!!!!!!! IN the meantime, we have senators and other reps, that are already wealthy, making decisions that affect people's lives. The senators don't have to worry about it. They are taken care of forever!!!!!!!!!!!

Families of those in this situation - let your voices be heard loudly. Don't put up with this kind of trash anymore. It has got to stop. People's futures are at stake. Your loved ones need support and only you can be their voices

This is the problem when the

This is the problem when the Federal Government controls our money.
Does anyone else see a pattern here?