No new nursing homes? Lawmakers consider moratorium despite companies’ objections

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There’s a growing debate about new nursing homes in Indiana and whether building more nursing homes could mean lower quality care for your loved ones.

This, as one local company announced plans to build several more care facilities in the coming year. Officials with Carmel-based Mainstreet want to provide a whole new level of luxury care and comfort, for seniors and for people who need transitional care.  But others say there are already enough facilities in the state, and adding more would only hurt the facilities that are here already.

Recently, the state senate passed a bill that would put a five-year moratorium on new nursing home construction.

Supporters of Senate Bill 173 say the state has enough nursing homes already, with thousands of empty beds.

Watch the video above to learn more about the debate, and read the statements below from opponents of the bill and the state senator who authored the legislation.

State Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, said:

“Currently, the occupancy rate in the state’s skilled nursing facilities is only at 74 percent, which amounts to 13,000 empty beds. Building new facilities will add even more unneeded beds at a time when utilization of skilled nursing facilities is decreasing.”

“Indiana has worked to promote and provide for home and community based services, assisted living and independent living – options more desirable to people today. Continuing to build nursing homes can draw resources away from home-based care and other alternative settings, which is what people want.

“In addition, 83 percent of Indiana nursing facility patients are paid for by taxpayers through the state and federal government. 63 percent are Medicaid patients, 20 percent are Medicare patients, and 17 percent are private pay patients. A five-year stabilization program will reduce growth to the number of unneeded nursing home beds.”

“To clarify what Senate Bill 173 does not do, it does not apply to assisted living, independent living, or home and community based services. Small houses and Continuing Care Retirement Communities are also not included. The bill does not impact any remodeling or renovations of existing facilities. It does not restrict the ability to purchase a building and replace a facility, as long as the move is within the county.

“Indiana is far from alone in establishing a similar program – approximately 41 states have either a moratorium or Certificate of Need, including our neighboring states of Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.”

But Mainstreet’s CEO & chairman says his company and many others object to the legislation, which he says will take many potential jobs away from Hoosier workers. Turner also said his company provides a unique level of care, with a higher standard of luxury and an emphasis on transitional health care. Turner said many other companies were also opposing the legislation, in both the health and construction sectors.

“The need for change in this industry is real and people deserve better,” said Mainstreet CEO Zeke Turner. “The need is great. We will do at least 16 projects in 2014. That’s an investment of at least $375 million and if we can’t do those projects here in Indiana, we’ll do it elsewhere, but that would be a shame not to be able to do them here in this state.”

Turner added: “There’s demand in the local market otherwise these projects wouldn’t be successful and we don’t want to be stopped from doing what we do.”

Turner’s father, Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, serves on the House Ways and Means committee, which could be the next panel to hear the legislation as it moves from the Senate to the House.

“It’s actually not complicated because this is my business, I run it,” said Zeke Turner. “We happen to have the same last name, he happens to be in politics, so people want to make some story out of that (but) there’s nothing there.”