New O'Malley Letter to President Obama and Senate, House Leadership Stresses Urgency of Upholding State Medicaid Flexibility

Maryland Governor Says Provider Assessments "Instrumental in Preserving Access to High Quality Care in Nation's Skilled Nursing Facilities"

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) today praised Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley for issuing a new letter to President Barack Obama and the leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives stressing the urgency of maintaining "the current federal framework for Medicaid provider assessments, which are instrumental in preserving access to high quality care in our nation's skilled nursing facilities (SNFs)." (Text of Letter attached and also available at www.aqnhc.org).

Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance -- a coalition of 10 leading post-acute and long term care organizations providing Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) care in approximately 1,400 facilities, in 44 states nationwide – praised Governor O'Malley's leadership, and said the letter comes at a key time in the high stakes budget battle on Capitol Hill.

"Governor O'Malley's timely letter to the President and our congressional leaders helps remind federal lawmakers 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," Rosenbloom said. "Since 70 percent of SNF costs are labor-related, any further reduction in facility Medicaid funding could destabilize direct care staff, which in turn threatens quality."

Continues the Governor's letter: "Over 40 states now utilize Medicaid provider assessments, charged against the nursing home industry, to generate revenue that is used to appropriately compensate SNFs for the care they deliver. These assessments have become instrumental in preserving access to high quality care, particularly in the face of recent dramatic rate cuts imposed by the Medicare program on these providers.

"Now, more than ever, SNFs depend on stable and appropriate Medicaid financing not only to retain high staffing ratios of direct caregivers (such as nurses and nursing aides) to residents, but also to ensure that providers may remain open and stable in the face of cuts made by other payers. As a result, the provider assessments, which are a necessary component of state Medicaid financing to SNFs, are essential.

"To provide additional context, currently over 80 percent of all SNF residents in the country depend on Medicare or Medicaid financing for their care. Moreover, over 70 percent of all SNF expenses relate directly to labor costs, especially to support the direct care provided to residents. Any threat to the financing in SNFs would directly jeopardize patient care."

In additional Medicaid provider assessment developments, the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care has joined with AARP, the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Health Care Association (AHCA), Families USA and others with an inside the Beltway print ad effort urging Congress not to cut Medicaid provider assessments.

"Provider assessments are an essential source of Medicaid funding that allows millions of low-income people to receive the quality care they need," states the ad. "Many states face difficult decisions about expanding their Medicaid programs, only now recovering from tough economic times. Don't send mixed messages during fiscal cliff talks about federal Medicaid support – and jeopardize care for society's most vulnerable – by reducing or eliminating provider assessments."

www.aqnhc.org

Contact:

Rebecca Reid


410-212-3843

SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care



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