Three Northern Kentucky counties are seeing a shortage of Medicare/Medicaid beds in the state’s fewer than 1,500 nursing homes, according to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer. People with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are in an even more precarious position because there are very few facilities that are qualified to care for them in that part of Kentucky.
Consequently, Ohio is filling its nearly 12,000 surplus beds with Kentuckians. The Enquirer’s investigation showed that while 60 percent of the cost is covered by federal money, Ohio taxpayers are picking up the difference at more than $6 million a year to care for out-of-state Kentucky residents.
Not only are the Ohio taxpayers burdened, residents’ families feel the impact in the inability to visit their loved one as often as they would like, leaving the family frustrated and the resident lonely. Some families have to drive for hours to reach the facility, which is not only a time issue, but also can cause financial stress with the cost of gas prices.
Kentucky’s “certificate of need” process that potential nursing home operators follow, keeps the state’s Medicaid costs down. “If you wanted to be cynical, you could also say that Kentucky probably doesn’t mind very much that people are leaving the state, because then they don’t have to pay for those patients,” said Robert Applebaum, director of the long-term care research project at the Scripps Gerontology Center.