FOREST HILL, Md., June 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In praising Congressman Frank Kratovil (D-MD) for ensuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was aware that Medicare cuts in the House version of federal health care reform were too high and would undermine Maryland seniors' access to quality nursing home care, a key Maryland long-term care leader joined by nursing home residents and facility staff yesterday to urge the Congressman to help extend emergency Medicaid relief for Maryland now pending before Congress. At issue is $474.9 million in enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding for Maryland that Governor Martin O'Malley has included in his FY11 budget as he attempts to protect vulnerable citizens from the negative impact of the ongoing national recession.
In urging support for this critical FMAP extension and discussing how quality care is contingent upon the combination of robust Medicare and Medicaid funding, Joseph DeMattos, president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland (HFAM), warned that every day Congress waits to pass this measure seniors' care is placed in growing jeopardy, facility staffing stability is being compromised, and good, local health jobs are at risk.
"If Congress fails to take action and pass the extension of FMAP funds, dozens of states – including Maryland – will suffer painful budget cuts to programs that serve our oldest and most vulnerable citizens," said DeMattos. "We urge Congressman Kratovil and his colleagues to expedite passage of this vital funding extension the Maryland General Assembly has literally already budgeted to ensure seniors retain access to quality long-term care."
The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 included a temporary increase in the Medicaid FMAP. This enhanced federal match is set to expire December 31, 2010. Without an extension of the funding, Maryland stands to lose $474.9 million equaling $1 billion in business activity and 9,000 jobs. Twenty-four states have already budgeted assuming extension of the enhanced FMAP.
"I've worried about the impact that deeper cuts might have on some of our most vulnerable populations, which is why I'll continue to fight against any changes that might lead to a reduction in the quality or accessibility of care," said Rep. Frank Kratovil. "At the same time, the uncertainty these facilities are facing is a perfect example of why we need to develop long-term budgeting solutions to meet our health care needs. Short-term fixes are no substitute for effective, sustainable fiscal policies."
"Without this funding, there is no doubt that the State will be forced to cut funding for the care of Marylanders most in need. Those cuts would go so deep that we are concerned about ensuring continued quality care to residents," said Brian Klausmeyer, administrator of the Forest Hill Health & Rehabilitation Center. "If we get hit again with cuts, I will need to reduce programs, forgo hiring new employees and delay much-needed building improvements and equipment purchases."
SOURCE The Health Facilities Association of Maryland