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I am writing this letter, as a constituent of Sen. John Hoeven, to encourage him to vote no on the Senate’s proposed health care bill. Why?

Last November, my 92-year-old mother passed away after having spent 16 months in a Bismarck long-term care facility. She had spent 14 years caring for herself following my father’s death. Her goal was to continue to economically care for herself. Due to a stroke, she required extensive care beyond that available by in-home caregivers.

The Jan. 1, 2016, state case mix rates for this facility ranged from a low of $197.80/day ($6,131.80/month) to a high of $630.23/day ($19,537.13/month). Mom’s daily rate was $265.63/day ($8,234.53/month).

In North Dakota, Medicaid pays for 51 percent of skilled nursing care compared to Medicare at 8 percent and private/other at 41 percent. Her life savings were spent in just three months. She became eligible for Medicaid. Her income sources were Social Security and a VA benefit because my dad served during World War II. As an only child who is retired, I could not afford the remaining monthly rate.

Medicaid funding to long-term care facilities in North Dakota was already cut sharply, due to low oil prices, by the governor in 2017. Under the Senate’s bill, these facilities are looking at another 22 percent Medicaid cut. These places could be forced to only admit patients who are able to pay for their own care.

My wife and I are in our mid-60s. It is not difficult to add 20 years, hopefully, onto our ages to project possible care needs. If this care is needed, how will we pay the bills? Due to pre-existing conditions, we are not eligible for long-term care insurance. Our savings will not last long. Sen. Hoeven, what will we do?

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Henry Lebak, Bismarck

 

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