WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As Congress returns today, the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) is stressing the increasing vulnerability of the U.S. Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) sector, and urged Governors to help ensure Congress understands why states must retain the flexibility in Medicaid programs necessary to help narrow facility funding gaps caused by the ongoing pressure on Medicare and Medicaid funding. SNFs already face $65 billion in Medicare funding reductions over the next ten years. (Source: Avalere)
Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance, said that while the nation's SNF providers and patients brace for sequestration and nearly $4 billion in FY 2014 Medicare funding reductions, the Alliance remains concerned that Congress may attempt to scale back Governors' ability to use so-called "provider assessments" to generate additional federal resources to help meet their most vulnerable constituents' long term and post acute care needs. 40 states, Rosenbloom noted, have already been forced to freeze or cut Medicaid-funded nursing home care since 2009.
"We urgently encourage Governors on both sides of the aisle to let Congress know that limiting their state level ability to utilize provider assessments to help bridge the funding gap in Medicaid programs is harmful and dangerous to SNF patients," stated Rosenbloom. "Limiting provider assessments will also shift still more Medicaid costs onto state budgets at a time the nation's Governors are already struggling to pay for a wide range of other onerous federal mandates."
Rosenbloom added that the SNF sector -- with 80 percent of our patients dependent upon Medicare or Medicaid funding for their care – "is especially sensitized to the cumulative negative impact of Medicaid cuts at the state level and Medicare cuts from Washington."
Federal law currently allows Governors to use provider-specific assessments to help pay for their share of Medicaid funding, and the amount of such revenues that can be rebated to providers is capped at 6%. States have disproportionately, and historically, relied upon provider assessments to fund their SNF Medicaid programs compared to other Medicaid providers -- and substantially more SNF provider assessment programs operate at or near the 6% ceiling than those for other providers.
Recent federal budget proposals reduce the maximum 6% assessment threshold anywhere from 5.5 to 3.5 percent – with cuts ranging from $11.3 billion to $21.8 billion in payments to all providers over a multi-year period. Rosenbloom conceded the provider assessment program "is not a long term funding solution, and the SNF community is committed to working with President Obama and Congress to find a more permanent, bipartisan solution to the worsening entitlement spending dilemma."
However, he concluded, "Until such bipartisan reform is achieved and SNF care is properly and adequately funded, provider assessments are indispensible to helping Governors and the hard-pressed SNFs in their states stabilize staffing and facility operations in a manner that protects their most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities."
Contact: Rebecca Reid
SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care