Hawaii lawmakers have agreed to give long-term care facilities more money to help them afford to take care of clients on Medicaid.

A House-Senate panel chaired by Rep. Dee Morikawa and Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland approved a bill Tuesday that provides an inflationary adjustment of $1.55 million in state general funds and $1.77 million in federal funds for fiscal 2017, which starts July 1.

The bill was the top priority this session for Morikawa, who has been pushing for this the past three years. The measure will go before the full House and Senate for final approval in the coming days.

Sens. Suzanne Chun Oakland and Roz Baker applaud after their committee passed a bill, championed by Rep. Dee Morikawa, left, that will give long-term care facilities more money for their Medicaid patients, Tuesday, at the Capitol.

Sens. Suzanne Chun Oakland and Roz Baker applaud after the committee passed a bill, championed by Rep. Dee Morikawa, left, that will give long-term care facilities more money for their Medicaid patients, Tuesday, at the Capitol.

Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

“It’s big,” she said of the bill passing. “There’s a lot of matching federal money on this. It’s money we can bring into the state to the long-term care facilities just to help them make a go at it.”

Long-term care providers in Hawaii have not had an inflationary increase to their Medicaid rates since 2009, according to Derek Akiyoshi, Hawaii Health Systems Corporation’s Oahu Region CEO.

He said roughly 90 percent of patients at Leahi Hospital and Maluhia are on Medicaid. Without the increase, he said the facilities have had to cut back on services.

The increase doesn’t just help state-run public hospitals though. It also helps small neighborhood facilities that may have just one or two Medicaid clients, such as community care foster family homes.

Numerous operators testified that in 2015 the industry-wide Medicaid shortfall for nursing facilities was $16.5 million.

The funding approved in the bill is non-recurring, Morikawa said, meaning there will be a need to come back next session for an additional increase.

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