Gov. Polis submits supplemental budget package to assist nursing facilities financially


Patrick Jones


Governor Jared Polis’ Office of State Planning and Budgeting, with help from the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), recently submitted a budget request package to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) to financially stabilize nursing facilities and assist workforce retention efforts. 

According to Colin Laughlin, deputy office director of the Office of Community Living at HCPF, many nursing facilities—especially those accepting Medicaid patients—continue to have solvency concerns. Much of these concerns come from their increased reliance on travel nurses and their increasingly high wages. 


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The package includes two supplemental budget requests. The first request is of $20 million, which would provide “temporary payments to nursing facilities in fiscal year 2021-2022 to support workforce and industry sustainability” according to a HCPF press release. The $20 million incorporates $10 million from the state General Fund and $10 million from federal matching funds. 

The second request is of $7 million, which would provide more funds for Medicaid funded facilities to increase worker wages similar to wages of those who provide home and community-based care services (HCBS). 

“Nursing homes are struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 induced economic downturn while also struggling to find and retain workers due to the current health care workforce shortage,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director of HCPF. “This funding would deliver financial support to nursing homes to help them better care for our seniors and people with disabilities in these settings.”

These supplemental requests have been passed along by JBC. The first will be incorporated with the current FY 2021-2022 budget and the second will be incorporated within the upcoming FY 2022-2023 state budget. 

Laughlin said nursing facilities are losing their permanent workforce, forcing agency workers to supplement those lost workers. This growing demand for agency workers causes their wages and rates to grow dramatically, which causes further financial strain on facilities.

“Fewer people are able to take these jobs, and then there are the staffing agencies that are creating some issues around costs,” said Laughlin. “We need to go after that money… and try to make sure we can allocate that specifically to our Medicaid facilities to try to help them stabilize some of their staffing patterns.”  

In nursing homes and HCBS, 2-4% of workers were travelers. That number rose to over 20%, said Laughlin. This is roughly four to five times the amount seen before the pandemic. He said this had led to costs for workers like certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to go up by about 600%.

These supplemental budget packages would prevent many of these nursing facilities from closing down and increase access to nursing facility care. 

Laughlin said HCPF will continue to listen to nursing facilities and help achieve more financial flexibility so they can focus on giving the best care to their residents.