Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has vetoed language in the state’s 2009 Budget that would protect nursing home residents from discharge due to a change in MassHealth clinical criteria. Without this language in the budget, frail elderly residents are at risk of being inappropriately discharged or being denied admission to a nursing home.

Currently MassHealth will reimburse the nursing home costs of residents who have a combination of care needs known as “Score 3.” If an individual cannot be safely cared for in the community then nursing home care is the appropriate choice for that individual.

Inclusion of Score 3 protective language in the budget has prevented previous attempts to “raise the bar” for MassHealth nursing home care and deny coverage to frail and ill individuals who don’t meet higher levels of required assistance.

Since 2004 the protective language has allowed elders to receive nursing home care when it is needed and has spared families from struggling to provide the care their loved ones require. Please call your Massachusetts Senator and Representative today and ask them to support an override of Governor Patrick’s veto.

For more information contact Deb Thomson, Mass. NAELA consultant, at The PASS Group, (617) 227-6985. For information on the Massachusetts chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys go to

Vetoed Language

4000-0600 provided further, that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the regulations, criteria and standards for determining admission to and continued stay in a nursing home in fiscal year 2009 shall not be more restrictive than those regulations, criteria and standards in effect on January 1, 2004 until the executive office of elder affairs submit a multi-year plan to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on health care financing detailing the suggested timeline for phasing in changes to nursing home clinical criteria, provided that these changes shall not adversely affect current nursing home residents and shall not jeopardize the effectiveness of the 2176 home and community based waiver?