Members of the Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center board met Tuesday to discuss the effect of TennCare’s CHOICES program on nursing homes and to provide general updates of the facility.
According to tn.gov, “... CHOICES provides the elderly (65 years of age and older) and adults with physical disabilities (21 years of age and older) who are eligible for TennCare with needed long term services and supports in the home/community setting or nursing home.”
Dennis Burtnett, BHRC, said the impact of CHOICES is unknown, but anticipated. The program may limit the number of patients accepted by Bradley Healthcare.
“CHOICES is a state program that is basically encouraging people to receive care at home, instead of institutional care,” Burtnett said.
To be in CHOICES, applicants must: need the level of care provided in nursing home; or meet the “at risk” for nursing home level of care; and qualify for Medicaid for long-term care. In addition, to qualify for Medicaid long-term care, the applicant’s income cannot exceed $2,094 per month and the total value of items owned cannot be more than $2,000.
“We are one of only five government-owned nursing homes in the state. It is very different being a nonprofit entity versus for-profit,” Burtnett said. “We have less ability to raise our fees and deal with the changes.”
According to Burtnett, the program has only been around for about two years. The impact has not yet been felt.
John Stanbery, board chairman, said the program will make it more difficult for applicants to get into nursing homes.
“... They [TennCare officials] will not say they are rationing care, but like what is happening with us, it will become more difficult for a patient to get in or get care,” Stanbery said.
Burtnett said he took nine of Bradley Healthcare’s leaders to the recent Tennessee Health Care Association annual convention. This was the first time the convention has been held in Chattanooga in 17 years.
“It was well worth it. I think everyone truly enjoyed the convention,” Burtnett said. “Most of my leaders found the educational sessions to be very good. I think we learned a lot. The opening and closing sessions refreshed and invigorated us.”
BHRC also announced:
• Amanda Whitley has been appointed by the Bradley County Commission to serve on the Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation board.
• Bradley Healthcare will be renovating the facility’s beauty shop. The altered room will not only look more like a beauty parlor, but there will be more than one seat. Additional improvements include 50 new over-bed tables that match the cherry finish of the beds; hand sanitizers within rooms, as well as plastic gloves and several new weather radios.
• Burtnett said a new marketing DVD is being shot to replace the current one. He also mentioned the possibility of a “Celebration of Life” ceremony every three months to remember those who have passed away within the nursing home.