House passes moratorium on nursing home construction

The Indiana House passed a bill Monday to place a moratorium on the construction of nursing homes in Indiana.

Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said the moratorium called for in Senate Bill 173 – through June 30, 2015 – would save money for the state, as well as nursing home facilities.

The bill passed 55-40 and now returns to the Senate, which has already passed the bill and can now approve changes made by the House or send the bill to a conference committee for further consideration.

Hospitals and facilities with fewer than 10 beds would be exempt. The bill would not affect assisted-living homes or the transfer of Medicaid beds. Brown said that Indiana's nursing homes aren’t full and the state is paying a part of those fixed costs.

But Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, called the bill an “over-the-top solution to a market-based problem.”

He said SB 173 has been presented as a cost-savings measure, but he has yet to see what those saving would be. Huston said the only number readily identifiable is the loss of tens of millions of dollars that would be invested into Hoosier communities.

Rep. Dale Devon, R-Granger, echoed Huston saying, “there are a lot more losers here than winners.”

Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said he is more in favor of a certificate-of-need program, but that he supported the bill. He said he wants continued discussions on the quality and efficiency of placing people in community health services.

Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, said he normally supports the free market, but that the long-term care market is an exception because the “government sets the rules, the government sets the rates.”

The bill originally called for a five-year moratorium on nursing home projects, but a House committee shortened the time to one year.

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