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Do nursing homes that accept Medicaid provide substandard care?

Qualifying for Medicaid is a wonderful help for your aging parents. Long-term care is expensive, and the financial assistance your parents can receive takes stress off your shoulders. However, another worry may be creeping into your mind: Are nursing homes that accept Medicaid low quality?

It is no secret that nursing homes in general are notorious for poor performance. Does the Medicaid factor lower the standard of care even further? Are your parents better off in a fancy facility that does not accept the government program?

Statistics on nursing homes in Colorado

According to, Colorado has 229 nursing homes, 199 of them (about 87 percent) accept Medicaid and 114 of those rate "much above average" or "above average." You can use the site's compare feature to review three facilities side by side based on ratings for health inspections, staffing, quality and overall performance. also reports that Colorado ranks fifth in the nation for quality of nursing homes, scoring a 3.74 on a five-point scale. With many of these places, including expensive ones, taking Medicaid, it is not the deciding factor in the kind of treatment your parents will receive.

How to determine quality of care

There are much more important traits to look for as you choose a nursing home. Find out the answers to the following questions:

  • Is there enough staff to care for all patients?
  • What is the usage rate of anti-psychotics?
  • Has the facility faced legal trouble recently?
  • How do patients spend their free time?
  • Is the home clean and well-maintained?
  • How do staff members interact with patients?
  • What is the turnover rate for employees?
  • Do workers have the education and experience to care for your parents' conditions?

Read reviews, talk to the family members of other patients and ask as many questions as you need to. Carefully review all information before making a decision. Just because your parents are on Medicaid does not mean they have to receive low-quality care.

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