A Bad Nursing Home Bill

HB113 submitted by Rep Wendelboe has got to be one of the worst bills I've seen so far this year.  Fran Wendelboe a republican who received an A+ rating last year from the NH Liberty Alliance so I wouldn't expect such a bill from her but sure enough here is it.

Basically this bill extends a moratorium on nursing home beds out to 2013.  RSA 151-C:4 created a moratorium on nursing home facilities starting in 1995 and was due to expire in 2009.

What does this mean?  It means new nursing homes are not being built and as the baby boom generation ages and demand for nursing homes increases, new facilities are being prevented by the NH state government from opening.  Basic economics here folks... increase demand while keeping a flat supply results in increased cost. 

And we look to government as the solution for increased health care costs?  Wake up and smell the coffee, government IS the reason for increased health care costs.  This bill is just one more example of why.  There is no free market to drive down costs.  There is a closed government controlled market where they directly impact the cost you are stuck paying.

I'd also like to present a letter to the editor I found from 2007 discussing the shortage of beds created by this moratorium back then, you can read it in full here.

I am writing to express my outrage and total frustration at the lack of nursing home beds in New Hampshire.

I was just informed this past week that there has been a moratorium for at least the last five years in New Hampshire. What are people to do? With the population growing older I cannot believe that any state would issue a moratorium on nursing home beds. When I called Concord I was told that the state wanted to save money by having the people cared for in their own homes. I don’t know anybody who would rather be in a nursing home than in his or her own home. However, my mother is not swallowing correctly and to bring her home and take the chance of having her choking and possibly dying is not worth the risk. She also has a mild to moderate form of dementia.

My mother just turned 94 years young in October, and up until May she was driving a car. However, in June she became somewhat confused and disoriented, and in August she suffered a TIA or small stroke. She was admitted to Portsmouth Hospital and around the end of August she was transferred to St. Andre Health Care in Biddeford, Maine, because that was the only facility that would take her for rehabilitation care.

Around the end of September, I was notified that my mother would not be covered under Medicare from Oct. 2 on because she was not showing enough improvement to keep her on Medicare and that I would have to private-pay at a rate of $231 a day. I don’t know about most people, but I cannot afford to pay over $7,000 a month for nursing home care.

When I was first notified that her Medicare would be cut off I started looking for nursing home care in New Hampshire. My mother has been a resident of New Hampshire and Portsmouth since 1964, and therefore does not qualify for Medicaid in Maine.

That's the real impact of this moratorium.  If we want to help lower costs and increase quality then let the free market solve the problem as clearly the government solutions are only making things worse.