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Dementia Care Resources Stretched Thin In Northern Wisconsin

Care Providers Seek More State Reimbursement From State

Mike Fischer (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Those caring for dementia patients in northern Wisconsin would like the state to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes.

Bayfield County Aging and Disability Services Manager Carrie Linder said Ashland and Bayfield counties have twice as many dementia patients as beds. She said nursing homes and assisted living providers are reluctant to take them.

Those providers “all seem to think right now that the reimbursement rate that they have and the lack of the ability to afford one-on-one staffing ratio has really been a hindrance to accept people that have the issues related to dementia,” she said.

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Linder said dementia patients are sometimes sent across the state.

“The most recent one was actually the Winnebago Mental Health Institute was the only place in the middle of the night on a Sunday night that was willing to accept an 85-year-old man experiencing dementia-related issues,” said Linder.

State Aging and Disability Resources Director Carrie Molke said Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget does include money for dementia care specialists.

“We also see a needed role for them to look at these challenging situations as well and seeing how they can contribute to finding solutions locally,” Molke said.

Dave Varana is the nursing home policy and rate setting chief with the Department of Health Services. He said Wisconsin does offer extra money to nursing facilities that accept patients with a high number of behavioral issues, including dementia. The state spends around $960 million on Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes and institutional care facilities each year.

Under the governor’s budget proposal, around $1.1 million would be added to fund specialists at some aging and disability resource centers around the state.