Two Laws Protecting MassHealth Residents

The following two laws are in place to protect MassHealth (Medicaid) nursing home residents. These protections have a large impact on the life of a nursing home resident. One, the Massachusetts Bed Hold Law, protects a MassHealth nursing home resident from being forcibly removed from his/her room while he/she is not at the nursing home for extended hospitalizations or personal leaves (to visit family, life events, etc.).  The Personal Needs Allowance policy protects a MassHealth nursing home resident’s right to purchase needed items, (e.g., new clothes, shoes and haircuts) not covered by Medicaid.

Both policies are at risk of being defunded every year when the Massachusetts Legislature considers the State’s budget.  They are both vital to the quality of nursing home experiences for residents and it’s important they remain financially viable.

MassHealth (Medicaid) Bed Holds

The Massachusetts Bed Hold Law is a policy protecting nursing home residents on MassHealth who temporarily leave the nursing home overnight for either a prolonged hospital stay or personal reasons, such as family/friend visits, community connections, acclimating able-residents back into the community, etc.

The Bed Hold policy states that a nursing home must hold a resident’s bed, in the same room, if:

  • The resident is in a hospital for no more than 20 days at a time.
  • The resident is away from the nursing home overnight due to visits to family members/friends or other personal reasons for no more than 10 days a year.

When in a nursing home, a resident’s bed is his/her home. Bed Holds make sure your loved one will not be forcibly removed from his/her home.

MassHealth (Medicaid) Personal Needs Allowance (PNA)

The PNA is an allowance set aside from a MassHealth nursing home resident’s income (i.e. social security, pension, etc.) to pay for items that are not covered by MassHealth. The PNA is used for essential items such as new clothing, haircuts, and long-distance phone calls.

Currently, the monthly Massachusetts PNA amount is $72.80. This has been the PNA amount for more than 25 years, so, as of 2017, the actual value is closer to $42.00 in today’s dollars. This is not enough money for a nursing home resident to use for personal needs, but it currently is the law.

MassHealth (Medicaid) Bed Holds and Personal Needs Allowances at Risk of Being Eliminated

Both the MassHealth Bed Hold policy and the PNA are at continual risk of being defunded. Every year, they are considered by the State Legislature for change and/or elimination.

There are two ways you can help ensure these vital protections are not reduced or eliminated:

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