Two MA Budget Items Protecting MassHealth Residents

The following two budget items are in place to protect nursing home residents who are covered by MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid program.  These protections have a large impact on the life of a nursing home resident:

  • The Massachusetts Bed Hold budget amount, protects a MassHealth nursing home resident from being forcibly removed from his/her room while not at the nursing home for hospitalizations or personal leaves (family visits, life events, etc.).
  • The Personal Needs Allowance policy protects a MassHealth nursing home resident’s ability to purchase needed items, (e.g., new clothes, shoes, haircuts, etc.) not covered by MassHealth.

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.

Bed Holds

The Massachusetts Bed Hold budget is a policy protecting nursing home residents on MassHealth who temporarily leave the nursing home overnight for either a 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 to visit family members/friends or other personal reasons.  Personal leaves are limited to no more than 10 days a year.

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

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, shoes, haircuts, etc.

Currently, the monthly Massachusetts PNA amount is $72.80. This has been the PNA amount for more than 30 years, which means the actual value is less than $40.00 in today’s dollars. Residents have already lost their homes and most of their personal belongings when they move to a nursing home.  As the only disposable income for MassHealth nursing residents, the PNA is extremely important in maintaining a sense of self-worth and enjoying simple pleasures.

Bed Holds and Personal Needs Allowances at Risk of Being Eliminated

Since both the Bed Hold policy and the PNA are part of the annual Massachusetts budget, they 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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