Chronic Stress on State Medicaid Program Raises Stakes in DC Medicare Debate as PA Congressional Delegation Urged to Ensure Stable FY 2012 Funding
HARRISBURG, Pa., March 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and a U.S. House congressional panel discuss federal health care issues in the Keystone State this week, a new analysis detailing the significance of Pennsylvania's skilled nursing sector to state economic activity finds this key local employer generates a substantial $11.76 billion annually, and helps support 129,864 jobs statewide. This ranks Pennsylvania 6th nationally in terms of nursing facility-generated economic activity, and makes the skilled nursing sector the state's second largest health facility employer, after hospitals. Moreover, the study underscores the fact stable federal Medicare funding from Washington, DC is mandatory to bolstering the chronically stressed Pennsylvania Medicaid program.
Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Washington DC-based Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, which released the report, stated: "With Pennsylvania a center of attention during this congressional district work period, we intend to reinforce with the entire congressional delegation the importance of this key health sector to Pennsylvania seniors, Pennsylvania jobs and Pennsylvania'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 the state. As the budget debate in Washington, DC begins in earnest, stable Medicare funding in the FY 2012 budget merits broad support on Capitol Hill from Pennsylvania's federal lawmakers."
The newest 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 in U.S. economic activity. The new analysis finds the following 10 states have the highest number of nursing facility jobs; followed by the total jobs created by nursing facility activity, and the total economic impact on the state economy:
Total NF-Generated Jobs
Total NF-Generated Econ Activity
Emil Parker, Director at Avalere Health, the lead author of the analysis, said nursing facilities across Pennsylvania and the nation are responding to the cumulative, chronic 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," he said. "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."
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 Nursing Facility Sector to Pennsylvania's Economy, and its Dominant Role in Post-Acute Care, go to www.aqnhc.org.
SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care