Ohio Seniors' Medicare-Funded SNF Care to be Slashed Another $37.3 Million if DC Budget Stalemate Not Resolved, Analysis Finds

National, State Eldercare Leaders: On Top Of Recent $30.5 Million Medicare Cut and 2011 Medicaid Reductions, Ohio Seniors, Caregivers, Facilities Already Reeling From Cascade of Cuts

May 10, 2012, 12:49 ET from Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 10, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With the debate on replacing mandatory budget cuts taking center stage in Washington, D.C. this week, the first independent analysis of how much U.S. seniors' Medicare-funded skilled nursing facility (SNF) care would be reduced under the Budget Control Act estimates Ohio seniors' SNF care will be slashed an additional $37.3 million in January 2013 if the ongoing congressional budget stalemate is not resolved. Nationally, the cut will be $782.3 million.

This latest threat to Ohio seniors would come on top of early 2012 Medicare cuts of $30.5 million resulting from passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, and on top of 5.8% ($360 million) state Medicaid reductions that occurred in 2011. The new study, from Avalere Health, was funded by the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care. Additional information and methodology notes on the study available at www.aqnhc.org.

"Ohio seniors, caregivers and facilities have been battered by a series of highly destabilizing federal and state funding cuts, and this latest threat comes at a time when facilities are caring for rising numbers of patients, requiring higher levels of care, and with a workforce under severe duress," observed Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance. "What seniors really deserve is a more rational, cost-effective Medicare post-acute payment system -- not more irrational Medicare and Medicaid cuts that jeopardize Ohio seniors' ongoing access to quality care, and which undermine facility operations. There are better, smarter ways to finance seniors' nursing home care, and a thorough discussion about how to do so is a paramount health policy priority both in Washington and Columbus." 

Peter Van Runkle, Executive Director of the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA), said thousands of job losses in facilities statewide are a cause for deep concern, and that more Medicare cuts from Washington are untenable. "With Ohio's skilled nursing facilities and the vulnerable seniors under their care already in a tenuous position following one cut after another, we urgently need our congressional delegation to help ensure more Medicare cuts remain merely a threat – not a reality come next January. Facilities are getting by on the slimmest of operating margins, and it is wrong for Ohio seniors to be placed in jeopardy due to budgetary dysfunction in Washington."

Rosenbloom noted a recent Politico op-ed by nationally-recognized health care experts Gail Wilensky, Ph.D. and Vincent Mor, Ph.D., which stressed the importance of improved care coordination among providers: "What is needed now is to incentivize hospitals and SNFs to work together to treat a patient over the course of an entire episode of illness, and to share any savings that could result from joint efforts... Until then, however, further across the board reductions in SNF reimbursements on top of those already put in place runs the risk of harming the very patients who can least afford it."

Contact: Ellen Almond or Leigh Ann Bradley 703/548-0019

SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care