‘Don’t leave seniors behind’: Nebraska health care pleads for funding

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN)- In Nebraska, over 20,000 seniors require some form of care, and with ongoing closures, growing concerns stem from a lack of funding.

Since 2015, 44 nursing homes and 34 assisted living facilities have closed in Nebraska, resulting in a total loss of more than 3,000 beds for seniors.

Nebraska Health Care Association President and CEO Jalene Carpenter told Channel 8 the statewide issue starts with ensuring access to care.

“There are literally counties in Nebraska that don’t have a single nursing facility,” she said.

“What is happening is, if we continue to underfund this sector, closures will continue.”

Following Governor Pillen’s State of the State Address on Wednesday, Nebraska health care providers felt the budget proposal ignored the financial realities of the industry.

For many families of those in care facilities, privatized care is the next option following a closure, placing financial and emotional strain on them.

“We have also seen some devastating effects on what’s happening when we have loved ones who are having to travel significant distances,” Carpenter said.

“We have evidence that shows that the further away a loved one lives from a senior, the less frequently they’re able to visit.”

As the health care sector rebuilds, Carpenter notes their need is an investment, which she said was proven during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were able to have a large rate increase in addition to ARPA funds that went directly to recruiting and retaining team members in long-term care,” she said.

“We’re still down roughly 1,200 positions for long-term care, but that goes to show that making an investment through provider rates, through ARPA funds, does help us staff our facilities to make sure seniors have access to care.”

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