Montana seeks to insulate nursing homes from future financial crises

Wes Thompson, administrator of Valley View Home in the northeastern Montana town of Glasgow, believes the only reasons his skilled nursing facility has avoided the fate of the 11 nursing homes that closed in the state last year are local tax levies and luck.

Valley County, with a population of just over 7,500, passed levies to support the nursing home amounting to an estimated $300,000 a year for three years, starting this year. And when the Hi-Line Retirement Center in neighboring Phillips County shut down last year as the covid-19 pandemic brought more stressors to the nursing home industry, Valley View Home took in some of its patients.

Thompson said he foresees more nursing home closures on the horizon as their financial struggles continue. But lawmakers are trying to reduce that risk through measures that would raise and set standards for the Medicaid reimbursement rates that nursing homes depend on for their operations.

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A study commissioned by the last legislative session found that Medicaid providers in Montana were being reimbursed at rates much lower than the cost of care. In his two-year state budget proposal before lawmakers, Republican Gov.

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