Bipartisan letter calls for the rejection of proposed Medicare cuts that threaten jobs, access to skilled nursing care
On the heels of a media event addressing concerns over the state Medicaid nursing home funding cuts that take effect today, Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) praised Members of the Florida delegation, U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan (R), Kathy Castor (D), Jeff Miller (R), Rich Nugent (R), Bill Posey (R), Frederica Wilson (D), and Bill Young (R) for their support of the bipartisan letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as the federal health agency considers a proposal that would cut Medicare reimbursement to skilled nursing facilities immediately by 12.8 percent for Fiscal Year 2012. The Florida Representatives were seven of the 152 Representatives to sign onto the letter to CMS, which urges the agency to consider all of the appropriate data before adopting deep Medicare payment cuts to skilled nursing facilities. FHCA also praised Sen. Bill Nelson (D) for joining the effort by sending a similar letter to CMS.
“We thank these Members of Congress for carrying our voice in Washington and for their continued efforts to ensure the growing needs of our nation’s most vulnerable frail, elderly seniors and individuals with disabilities are protected,” said Emmett Reed, Executive Director of FHCA. “Medicaid and Medicare funding are inextricably linked, and their recognition of the potential devastation this proposal could inflict on Florida’s nursing facilities, as well as the quality of care they provide and the number of jobs they contribute, could make the difference in finding a more measured approach to their Medicare payment system.”
In an unprecedented move in late April, CMS proposed a drastic, immediate cut to the nation’s skilled nursing facilities by more than $4 billion. The agency’s proposal is based on less than one year of data when, historically, CMS bases decisions on a full year of data. If the proposal were adopted, nursing facilities would be forced to make significant operational changes, putting more than 100,000 jobs in multiple professions at risk.
FHCA and its national organization, the American Health Care Association (AHCA), are advocating that CMS slow down the process and follow its traditional practices of examining the entire data before implementing a reduction to nursing facilities. The associations aim to help CMS reach its goal of budget neutrality within the Medicare payment system, but through a more measured, targeted approach by dispersing the reduction over multiple years.
The bipartisan letter sent to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, which is similar to the letter sent individually by Sen. Bill Nelson, was co-signed by Representatives Buchanan, Castor, Miller, Nugent, Posey, Wilson, and Young and states:
“Financial stability is critical to ensuring sustainable, quality long-term care for Medicare beneficiaries in nursing facilities. The men and women who work in these facilities, approximately 3.1 million Americans, are responsible for serving some of the frailest members of our society. We must ensure that the services they provide to Medicare beneficiaries are preserved.
“On behalf of our constituents who receive care in SNFs, we request the agency take a more measured approach and delay any proposed cuts pending a review of data from a full year. If, after reviewing additional data, CMS ultimately determines that comprehensive information supports the need to adjust payments to SNFs, then it should follow its common practice of implementing the reduction over a period of two or three years in order to reduce the potential impact on nursing facility services.”