Nursing home construction measure passes Senate

The Indiana Senate passed a bill Thursday that would limit the number of state nursing homes that could be built.

Senate Bill 173 would prohibit the State Department of Health from approving the development of new nursing homes built after June.

The approval of comprehensive care beds being added to current facilities would also be prohibited.

But continuing care retirement homes and assisted living would be exempt from the bill.

Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, who authored the bill, said the nursing home industry is the ninth largest employer in Indiana and brings in over $300 million in state and local taxes.

Nursing homes are “unique to Indiana because they take care of Medicaid patients,” who make up 83 percent of the cost, Miller said. The remaining 17 percent are privately paid.

Miller said while “the nursing home facility industry has an important place in our economy,” there are currently 13,000 empty beds.

Sen. Lindel Hume, D-Princeton, said he was concerned the bill would keep people from getting into a nursing home.

But Miller disagreed.

“Anyone who qualifies for Medicaid today would get care through a nursing home under Medicaid,” she said.

However she said someone cannot get into a nursing home without prior authorization. A person must be unable to complete three activities of daily living, such as dressing or bathing oneself, and a physician must order the person into the nursing facility, among other requirements.

“Building new facilities will add more unneeded beds at a time when utilization of skilled nursing facilities is decreasing,” Miller said.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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