Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight Addresses Nursing Home Funding Cuts

As a result of ongoing media efforts relative to chronic Medicaid underfunding of nursing home care, the current economic crisis facing states, and the skilled nursing facility Medicare cuts that went into effect on October 1 due to the implementation of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services “forecast error,” the Associated Press (AP) ran a story on October 5 chronicling this issue. On October 13th, CNN and Lou Dobb’s Tonight also produced a segment, during which a reporter went on-site at the West Hartford Health and Rehab Center in West Hartford, CT, to film the care provided in a typical skilled nursing facility and interview the administrator.

American Health Care Association President and CEO Bruce Yarwood was also interviewed, noting that Medicaid has chronically underfunded the care of nursing home care and the disparity between the cost to provide care and reimbursement levels continues to increase over time. In 2008, the national average hourly Medicaid reimbursement for nursing home care was only $6.70 and hour. Yarwood went on to say that most every state is facing a budgetary crisis as they grapple with the reality that demand and need for Medicaid financed care is up, while funding levels for the program are limited or are in jeopardy.

On October 1, an administrative cut in Medicare funding for skilled nursing care went into effect – eliminating an estimated $1.05 billion in FY 2010 alone, or as much as $16 billion over the next ten years. The Medicare cuts, coupled with Medicaid underfunding and state budget crisis, will result in job losses and will jeopardize the recent quality improvements seen in our nation’s skilled nursing facilities.

Long term care facilities are facing even more funding uncertainty, as temporary increases in Medicaid funding that came from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package will expire on December 31, 2010. All of these funding cuts and underfunding come at a time when the long term care sector must be preparing to face an upswell of individuals requiring both short-stay rehabilitative care and long stay 24-hour nursing care and support.

Please help Save Our Seniors. Contact your Members of Congress by phone or e-mail and urge them to oppose the nursing home funding cuts contained in health care reform.