City, state long-term care costs going up | NevadaAppeal.com

City, state long-term care costs going up

Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer

It will cost Carson City about $240,000 more this year to pay its bill for convalescent care.

Carson City helps support approximately 60 elderly residents who aren’t fully covered under the state’s Medicaid program and can’t afford all the costs of long-term care, said Daren Winkelman, environmental health director.

Last year, Carson City came up about $100,000 short of being able to cover convalescent care expenses but recovered that amount from a state and Nevada Association of Counties indigent care relief fund.

Winkelman will ask city supervisors Thursday to approve a request to the state and association for $200,000 to help cover rising elder care costs. However, he doesn’t expect to be fully reimbursed this year, which could leave Carson City leaders scraping for funds.

While the relief fund was increased in the 2001 Legislature, several other counties are facing a similar shortfall and are turning to the rainy-day fund for help.

Tracy Becker, association program coordinator, said while the fund can support $500,000 in requests, that money is supposed to serve this year and next. She has $700,000 in requests for this year, and the available funds are a $200,000 increase over funding available in previous years.

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“We’ve got many counties in trouble besides Carson City,” Becker said. “It’s becoming a significant problem. The system by which we pay for long-term care isn’t working in Nevada.”

Indigent care costs are covered in each of Nevada’s 17 counties through a property tax levy between 6 and 10 cents. Carson City residents pay the full 10 cents allowed by law, generating roughly $1 million a year. County money makes up half the costs of the state program, with the other half coming from the federal government.

Becker said as many counties face a decline of their assessed valuation, the tool by which property taxes are collected, and an increase in their elderly population, the funding gap widens.

Becker said until 2001, money in the relief fund, which is granted by the Legislature, was sufficient to cover requests over a two-year period. She said while Clark and Washoe counties have sufficient property tax growth to accommodate indigent care needs, the other counties and the state are struggling to keep up with expenses.

Last year and this year are the only times Carson has turned to the fund for help. With no solution in sight, Winkelman said he expects to come up short next year as well.

Becker noted an Assembly committee is focusing on the state’s tax structure to better provide funding for education and long-term care needs.

If you go:

What: Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting

When: 8:30 a.m. Thursday

Where: Community Center Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.