May 28, 2004

Wyden, Smith Applaud Federal Waiver to Aid Oregon Nursing Homes

Higher reimbursements will help facilities hire and retain workers

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) today applauded the granting of a waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help Oregon improve its nursing home industry. The waiver will allow Oregon to provide better Medicaid reimbursements to the state's nursing homes and to attract additional Medicaid matching funds. Increases in rates will be used to enhance working conditions for employees and improve the quality of care they provide to clients. "This waiver will help to provide better care for all our nursing home patients," said Wyden. "Senator Smith and I were pleased to work with the State of Oregon and with our nursing home providers to make it happen." "Oregon's nursing homes care for those who have cared for us," said Smith. "This waiver will help facilities attract and retain high-quality staff that will deliver high-quality care in our communities." Oregon's reimbursement rates are at levels established in July, 2002. These rates reimburse less than 80 percent of the amount that facilities spend to care for Medicaid clients in 2004. With this waiver, Oregon will move out of the bottom third of state rankings of Medicaid nursing facility payment.