AQNHC Praises Schakowsky, Matsui Letter to Super Committee Stressing Medicare, Medicaid Funding Adequacy and Rejection of "Shortsighted" Cost-Sharing Proposals

Oct 14, 2011, 11:03 ET from Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care

Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care: Cumulative Medicare, Medicaid Funding Reductions to Lowest Margin Provider Causing Growing Concern About Facility Closures, Job Losses

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care today praised a letter from the Congressional Task Force on Seniors to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction stressing the need to, first, protect seniors' ongoing access to quality care by ensuring Medicare and Medicaid funding adequacy to providers is preserved, and, second, reject what the Alliance says are "shortsighted" proposals to shift Medicare costs to beneficiaries. The Task Force is Co-Chaired by U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Doris Matsui (D-CA).

"The Congressional Task Force on Seniors letter to the Super Committee is precisely correct to point out that U.S. seniors' ongoing access to quality care is contingent upon adequate Medicare and Medicaid funding to providers themselves," stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance. "As the lowest margin health care provider, the nation's nursing home sector -- and our patients, and our workforce – are especially vulnerable to the cumulative Medicare and Medicaid funding reductions that are now threatening facility closures, job losses and subsequent access issues."

Rosenbloom also praised Reps. Shakowsky and Matsui for noting in their letter that, "Premiums, deductibles and cost-sharing under Medicare are already high and there is no limit on annual out-of-pocket costs – as a result seniors pay three times the amount of out-of-pocket costs as the non-elderly." Said the Alliance leader: "Previous research suggests any savings that result from imposing additional out-of-pocket costs on beneficiaries must be weighed against the additional costs likely to occur in other areas of the Medicare system – particularly hospitalizations – that could increase Medicare expenditures in those areas while leading to poorer outcomes for beneficiaries." He also noted imposing higher cost-sharing responsibilities on patients reduces both necessary and unnecessary care.

Rosenbloom said the Alliance is deeply concerned that nursing home closures and job losses just announced in Nebraska and Ohio -- attributed specifically to an 11.1% Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare funding reduction that went into effect on October 1st -- coincides with growing concerns in other states that facility job losses are imminent as a cumulative funding squeeze undermines facilities' economic stability.

"The prospect of still more Medicare cuts stemming from Congressional Super Committee activity would be devastating to nursing home patients and disastrous to caregiver jobs, and would undermine facilities' ability to admit, treat and return to home a rapidly increasing number of patients requiring intensive post-acute rehabilitation," observed the Alliance leader. "The additional $42 billion Medicare cuts proposed earlier this month by the Administration -- on top of this new CMS regulation, and on top of the state Medicaid cuts – will further destabilize the state's second largest health facility employer and the substantial economic activity nursing homes generate throughout rural, suburban and urban America."

An analysis by Avalere Health finds the new CMS regulation that went into effect on 10/1 will reduce Medicare payment to the nation's nursing home sector by $79 billion over 10 years. This new and latest reduction in payments to the sector cumulates on $29.4 billion in Medicare payment cuts enacted to fund healthcare reform, and a $16.8 billion Medicare payment reduction in 2010 regulation.

SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care