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After House Committee Chairs Meet on Health Reform, Long Term Care Leaders Say Rescinding Bush-Era Medicare Regulation Critical to Protecting Jobs, Preserving Quality Eldercare
Date:6/10/2009

Administration's FY 2010 Budget Must be Aligned With Nation's Broader Economic, Health Policy Goals

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) met yesterday with House Democrats to begin crafting a health reform package, leaders of the nation's two largest long term care advocacy organizations urged the lawmakers to help reject a Bush-era Medicare regulation included in President Obama's FY 2010 budget that will cut 30,000 key health jobs, and stifle delivery system reforms already benefiting patients and taxpayers.

"We strongly support the effort of Congress to help President Obama achieve his job creation and health reform objectives, but we strongly oppose the Administration's support for a Bush-era Medicare regulation that will kill health jobs, inhibit patient choice, and slow key delivery system reforms now benefiting patients and taxpayers," said Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA).

Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, pointed out the pending regulation -- sidetracked last year due to significant bipartisan U.S. Senate and House opposition -- also has the deleterious effect of cutting Medicare nursing home funding by $1.05 billion in FY 2010, $7.23 billion over five years, and $18 billion over ten years, according to the Administration's own budget projections.

"With President Obama and his team diligently focused on job creation and health care reforms designed to expand access and control delivery costs, we urge congressional leaders shaping the House plan to help ensure the Medicare regulatory actions being pursued by the federal government are in-synch and complementary with our broader policy objectives -- not contrary to them," said Rosenbloom.

Yarwood and Rosenbloom said the Bush Medicare regulation included in the Obama FY 2010 budget would be especially damaging to seniors in the many states across the nation who have already endured, or will soon face, substantial Medicaid funding cuts as a result of recent state legislative actions. As has been corroborated by independent research time and again, they said, Medicare and Medicaid funding are inextricably linked, and the combination of cuts to both programs squeezes facilities in a manner harmful to Medicare beneficiaries' care needs, local economies, and the caregiver jobs base.

A new National Governors' Association (NGA) State Budget Update underscores this concern, and warns "stark declines in current revenues are forcing states in all regions to consider another round of budget cuts before fiscal 2009 concludes on June 30." The long term care leaders said this is yet one more reason the Obama Administration and Congress must cautiously consider how any federal cut to seniors' Medicare funding under the auspices of broader "reform" could intensify the negative impact of state Medicaid cuts already jeopardizing older Americans' access to quality long term care and services.

U.S. Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) are leading a bipartisan letter effort in the U.S. House urging HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to reject the Obama Administration's proposed Medicare regulation. An excerpt of the letter (available in its entirety at www.ahca.org and www.aqnhc.org) is as follows:

"We are deeply concerned that access to high-quality skilled nursing care for America's seniors will be threatened if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) moves forward with an administrative proposal that will drastically cut Medicare funding for skilled nursing facility (SNF) care. This proposal will reduce reimbursements to SNFs by a projected $7.23 billion over five years, rising sharply to $18 billion over ten years. These cuts will result in the loss of at least 30,323 jobs in skilled nursing facilities around the country and diminish business activity by $2.5 billion, further reducing federal, state and local tax revenue. On behalf of our nearly 2 million Medicare beneficiary constituents who receive care in SNFs annually, we urge the Department to reject the proposed rule and the resulting cuts to essential nursing and rehabilitative care.


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SOURCE American Health Care Association
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