Friday, March 12, 2010

Senate releases proposed budget

On Thursday, the Senate HHS Appropriations Committee released the initial Chairman's budget, which includes a 7 percent ($199.4 million) cut to nursing home Medicaid funding. The budget does not account for the $1 billion in Medicaid money that will result from the extended Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding, which was included in legislation that cleared the U.S. Senate earlier this week.

Coverage for adult vision and hearing services were eliminated, managed care was expanded (but does not include long term care), hospice rates were reduced to reflect the cut in nursing home rates ($17.5 million) and the Nursing Home Quality Assessment was expanded to the maximum 5.5 percent. Funding was also shifted for nursing home case loads to more cost-effective home and community-based waiver programs, which is in line with FHCA's position statement to ensure cost-effective delivery of long term care services while preserving Florida’s economy and safeguarding the taxpayers’ interests.

This week the members of Our Florida Promise continued to urge legislators to keep the promise to fund quality nursing home care. On Tuesday, they delivered our blog post about how nursing homes are a critical component to the long term care continuum and must be adequately funded and not undercut by an expansion of less cost-effective programs. This grassroots campaign is making an impact, as the Senate's proposed budget contained funding for those more cost-effective home and community-based waiver programs but no expansion of slots for the Nursing Home Diversion Program.

The House is expected to release its version of the budget next week, and FHCA will keep you informed as soon as this information becomes available. In the meantime, there is talk at the Capitol of possibly using the FMAP dollars to fund other programs rather than alleviate funding cuts to the health and human service budget. Next week, we'll ramp up the message that legislators have no reason to impose these funding cuts when federal money is available. We'll be asking your help to take part in our grassroots campaign to e-mail this message to your local legislators, so stay tuned.

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