Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lawmakers’ Bipartisan Letter Seeks Preservation of Robust Medicare, Medicaid Funding

Florida Health Care Association joined its national affiliate - the American Health Care Association (AHCA) - in praising today a new bipartisan letter from U.S. Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-SC) and Ranking Member Paul Ryan (R-WI) asking them to help preserve Medicare and Medicaid funding for the long term care community as their Committee examines issues related to these important entitlement programs.

“By leading this new letter to Chairman Spratt and Ranking Member Ryan, Congresswomen Berkley and Capito are once again acting in an effective, bipartisan manner to ensure America’s oldest seniors in need of the most intensive skilled nursing care receive the vital Medicare and Medicaid funding they require – and we thank them for their long-standing efforts on their behalf,” stated Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of AHCA. “The letter draws needed attention to the chronic Medicaid under funding crisis, which is increasingly problematic for patients and facilities at a time when, in just the past six months, Medicare-funded nursing home care has been cut by nearly $27 billion over ten years.”

States the letter from Representatives Berkley and Capito to Chairman Spratt and Ranking Member Ryan:

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) face increasing pressures due to struggling state Medicaid programs coupled with Medicare funding reductions of more than $12 billion over ten years as of October 1, 2009. In fact, Medicaid fails to cover the cost of care for patients in nursing homes. In 2009, the shortfall was projected to be $4.6 billion nationwide or $14.17 per patient, per day. These combined Medicare-Medicaid funding cuts have had the effect of significantly reducing the resources available for providing skilled nursing care at a time when patients have more medically complex needs than ever before.

“Any further reductions will hurt a growing economic sector, since long term care added 50,200 jobs in 2009 alone while the country’s approximately 16,000 nursing facilities and 39,000 assisted living communities comprise 1.1 percent of our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or $153.8 billion. Because workforce expenses represent 70 percent of a facility’s total costs, any reductions in funding will result in workforce cutbacks which will not only severely compromise the ability of long term care to provide life-sustaining care services to frail, elderly and disabled patients and residents, but also will decrease the economic contributions of the sector.

“Please join us in requesting that the Budget Committee continue to support the long term care community through reasonable annual inflation adjustments and fair reimbursement for unpaid Medicare co-payments as they consider issues related to entitlement programs in preparing the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 Budget Resolution.”

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