As Gov. Scott's Medicaid Proposals Debated, New Study Finds Florida Ranks 5th Nationally in Nursing Facility-Generated Economic Activity and Jobs

Mar 03, 2011, 13:19 ET from Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care

Cumulative Pressure on Florida's Nursing Facilities From Ongoing Medicaid Squeeze Raises Stakes in Unfolding DC Medicare Funding Debate

Online Ad in Tallahassee Democrat Focuses Attention on Key FL Health Policy Issue

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the impact of Florida Governor Rick Scott's Medicaid proposals are a hot topic of debate in the health policy community, a new analysis detailing the significance of Florida's skilled nursing sector to the state's economic activity finds this key local employer generates $11.63 billion annually and helps support 145,114 local jobs statewide. This ranks Florida as fifth nationally in terms of nursing facility-generated economic activity, and makes the skilled nursing sector Florida's second largest health facility employer after hospitals.

Moreover, the study emphasizes not just the fact the skilled nursing sector will continue to be a key leader in bolstering Florida and the nation's economic recovery, but that stable Medicare funding from Washington is mandatory to propping up Florida's Medicaid program, which has become a touchstone of discussion in Tallahassee as lawmakers weigh various reform proposals at the state and federal levels.

Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Washington DC-based Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, which released the report, stated: "We want to reinforce with the Governor and the entire federal congressional delegation the importance of this key sector to Florida seniors, Florida jobs and Florida's ongoing economic recovery. Medicare is more than a key national health program – it is also a cornerstone of rural, suburban and urban economic vitality throughout Florida. As the federal budget debate in Washington begins in earnest, stable Medicare funding in the FY 2012 budget merits broad support on solid policy grounds."

The new installment of the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care's "Care Context" series of health policy analyses, created with analytic support from Avalere Health, a non-partisan health advisory firm, details the fact that, nationally, the U.S. skilled nursing sector accounts for 1.7 million jobs, with a total impact of over $201 billion annually on U.S. economic activity.  

Emil Parker, Director at Avalere Health, the lead author of the analysis, said nursing facilities across Florida and the nation are responding to the funding squeeze in a variety of ways, including submitting late payments to vendors and being forced to delay facility improvements and maintenance: "Given that the average age of nursing home facilities in the United States is 29 years, delays in maintenance may negatively affect residents' quality of life. In addition, if nursing facility physical plants cannot be maintained adequately and the sector's capacity declines as a result, some patients may have to spend more time in higher-cost acute care hospitals because of delays in transfers to nursing facilities," he said.

Nursing facilities are the dominant provider of Medicare post-acute care services, treating 50 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries who are discharged from hospitals to post-acute care. The majority of patients are short-stay Medicare patients who are discharged from the hospital to the nursing facility, and need restorative and recuperative care before returning to home and their community. Over the past two years, the nursing facility sector – through both federal regulatory and budgetary actions – has already absorbed nearly $30 billion nationally in Medicare cuts over ten years.

To view complete study, and to learn more about the significance of the U.S. nursing home sector to Florida's economy, and its dominant role in post-acute care, go to www.aqnhc.org.

SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care



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http://www.aqnhc.org