More nursing homes closing every year in Wisconsin

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STOUGHTON (WKOW) — Nursing homes are struggling to stay open, and providers say the state’s low Medicaid reimbursement rate is largely to blame.

27 news is Digging Deeper into the issue, and we found the number of facilities closing is climbing.

According to the department of health services, in 2016, six nursing homes closed across the state. The next year it was eight and in 2018 seven closed.

This year ten have already closed.

What’s more alarming, 27 facilities are under receivership, which is similar to a bankruptcy proceeding, with a goal of getting the company back on track.

All these numbers have a human impact.

After her brother fell and got a traumatic brain injury, Judi Trampf had no idea where he was going to live.

“Most places I was going to were saying, we don’t have a room, we don’t have a spot for him,” Trampf said. “Some people were saying we don’t take people with head trauma.”

She went to four nursing homes each day for three weeks until she found Skaalen in Stoughton.

Now, her brother Mark has been living there for 2 years.

“People don’t realize the struggle or what’s going on with the shortage of beds until you’re faced with it,” Trampf said.

The issue that the Trampfs had was similar to what families are experiencing all across the state.

John Sauer, with Leading Age Wisconsin, says nursing homes are closing because of staffing shortages that are made worse by low Medicaid reimbursement.

“They can’t sustain the Medicaid losses and still offer quality care,” Sauer said.

That’s why his group is asking legislators for $83 million in the state budget for nursing homes.

Sauer realizes there are many important causes that need government funding but says the state’s aging population needs help now.

“If we don’t start tackling these issues now, it will be incredibly difficult to do so just a few years down the road,” Sauer said.

For Judi, seeing the progress her brother has made since his injury was overwhelming.

From being nearly unconscious to making art again.

She says that was only possible because of the care he received.

She hopes others have the same opportunities.

“Maybe you don’t need it now,” she said. “If you do, you better hope that there’s someplace you can send your family member.”

Governor Evers’ budget proposed increasing funding for nursing homes by 2.5 percent and would have depended on the Medicaid expansion.

Francisco Almenara

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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