WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Emphasizing the need to end fragmented policymaking for the U.S. skilled nursing facility (SNF) sector to help sustain quality gains and boost cost efficiency, the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) praised U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) for convening today's Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, and said repeated SNF Medicare funding cuts are no replacement for intelligent reforms that help coordinate care for an aging, increasingly disparate, higher acuity patient population.
"Because Medicare and Medicaid together pay for the care of three out of every four SNF patients, it is crucial to assess not just the impact both programs have on the ability of providers to continue delivering high quality patient care, but also how to improve cost savings by better coordinating today's fragmented, siloed policymaking process," said Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance. "Funding reduction after funding reduction is no substitute for rational policymaking that can help patients and help stabilize a key U.S. health sector already slated to absorb $48 billion in funding cuts between FY 2012-21."
Rosenbloom said the AQNHC's new Spring 2012 Care Context health policy paper, with analytic support from Avalere Health, reports that sufficient levels of skilled nursing staff are essential to providing high quality care and reducing unnecessary, costly hospital readmissions. The new report also examines the cumulative negative impact of Medicare and Medicaid payment reductions on facilities, the SNF workforce and, ultimately, patient care.
The Alliance leader also pointed to hard won care quality gains detailed in the most recent joint report from the AQNHC and the American Health Care Association (AHCA), which relies upon government-measured data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Since 2009, the report found, SNFs have improved in nine out of 10 Quality Measures; since 2000, SNF care has improved in 16 out of 26 Quality Indicators. "We have identified hospitalizations and care transitions, for example, as key areas of opportunity for enhancing the care and outcomes of nursing facility residents, while reducing healthcare costs," Rosenbloom continued.
Rosenbloom also said that rather than simply reducing Medicare funding at a time when the cost of providing care is increasing substantially – and often due to government policy itself -- policymakers should consider taking steps toward equalizing payments for certain patient conditions in post-acute settings.
"Rationalizing post-acute payments, for example, could save scarce government dollars without undercutting our care giving infrastructure," he concluded. "We will be stepping-up our efforts to work with Congress and the Administration in the months ahead to help achieve these highly-desirable policy outcomes, and will offer specific proposals to do so."
Contact: Rebecca Reid
SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care