Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Press Releases >>
Past NCAL Chair Asks Senate Panel to Address Medicaid Financing and Coverage Issues  
 
Past NCAL Chair Asks Senate Panel to Address Medicaid Financing and Coverage Issues
Minnesota Provider Participates in U.S. Senate Aging Committee’s Assisted Living Roundtable

Lisa Gelhaus, NCAL (202) 898-2825
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

3/15/2011

Washington, D.C.: Today, Howie Groff, president of Tealwood Care Centers and immediate past chair of the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) participated in a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s roundtable on assisted living. On behalf of NCAL, Groff provided the committee with information and positions on a variety of issues impacting assisted living as a provider and from a national perspective.

“The issues facing Medicaid coverage in assisted living are fundamentally economic, not regulatory,” said Groff. He expressed concern that state budget shortfalls are going to further reduce Medicaid coverage for the nation’s 131,000 assisted living residents. “Sub-market payment rates, lack of payment for room and board, and restrictive state policies are the root causes of limited options for low-income seniors in many states,” he said.

Groff is president of the Bloomington, Minn.-based company that operates 40 assisted living and nursing facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Tealwood has 3,450 employees, serves 1,201 assisted living residents and 1,298 skilled nursing facility residents. He is the immediate past chair of the NCAL, serving as chair from 2007 to 2009.

As a solution, he suggested that Housing and Urban Development make housing vouchers available to cover the room and board portion of assisted living. He advocated for increased public financing to build affordable assisted living projects and additional incentives to encourage families to save for long term care costs. “It is imperative for policymakers to consider ways to expand the availability of affordable assisted living and to help states cover the funding gaps that currently exist,” he said.

When asked about federal regulation, Groff told the Senate panel, “NCAL strongly supports regulation of assisted living at the state level. States continuously modify their rules to meet changing resident needs.” He urged that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proceed cautiously when defining Medicaid community-based settings. CMS should not exclude assisted living providers from the Medicaid program, he said. “Any attempt to mandate that HCB services be provided in small, board and care settings is wrong. Such a narrow definition eliminates choice and would discriminate against people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.”

Beyond regulation, Groff informed the committee that NCAL has spearheaded numerous innovative quality initiatives that raise the bar for consumer satisfaction. Groff asked that these efforts be nurtured by policymakers.

Prior to the meeting, the Committee asked panelists to answer 40 Questions for The Record and submit a statement.

-30-

Highlights of Minnesota Provider’s Comments To U.S. Senate Aging Committee’s Assisted Living Roundtable

Tealwood Care Centers President Howie Groff participated in today’s U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s roundtable meeting titled, “Assisted Living at the Dawn of America’s ‘Age Wave’: What Have States Achieved and How is the Federal Role Evolving?” As the immediate past chair of the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), Groff contributed information and positions on issues impacting assisted living as a provider and officer of a national organization. Below are highlights from his Responses to Questions and statement submitted to the Committee.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS AND STATEMENT:

1. Groff expressed concern about state cuts to Medicaid and asked for expanding federal programs to cover room and board costs not currently covered under Medicaid.

“The issues facing Medicaid coverage in assisted living are fundamentally economic, not regulatory. Sub-market payment rates, lack of payment for room and board, and restrictive state policies are the root causes of limited options for low-income seniors in many states,” he said.

2. Advocated for expanding federal programs to build affordable assisted living projects and provide additional incentives to encourage families to save for long term care costs.

“It is imperative for policymakers to consider ways to expand the availability of affordable assisted living and to help states cover the funding gaps that currently exist.”

3. Expressed concern about a current Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services effort to define home and community based settings.

“CMS should not exclude assisted living providers from the Medicaid program … Any attempt to mandate that home- and community-based services be provided only in small board and care settings is wrong.”

4. Asked that regulation remain at the state level, stating,

“NCAL strongly supports regulation of assisted living at the state level.”

5. Noted that NCAL leads the profession in the development of quality efforts.

“NCAL believes that successful quality initiatives raise the bar for resident satisfaction, quality of life and improved operational performance.

Background/Bio: Tealwood Care Centers is based in Bloomington, Minn. Tealwood operates 40 assisted living and nursing facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Tealwood has 3,450 employees, serves 1,201 assisted living residents and 1,298 skilled nursing facility residents. Groff is the immediate past chair of the NCAL, serving as chair from 2007 to 2009.

The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) represents more than 2,800 not-for-profit and proprietary assisted living and residential care communities dedicated to continuous improvement in the delivery of professional compassionate care and services for the elderly and disabled. NCAL is the assisted living voice of the American Health Care Association. For more information, please visit www.ncal.org.

.