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As August Congressional Recess Concludes, Polls Show Seniors, General Public Strongly Opposed to Medicare Cuts in Congressional Health Reform Plan, Says AHCA
Date:9/4/2009

Large Majority of Seniors Fear Negative Impact on Care if Congress Slashes Medicare Benefits; At FL and PA Events, Lawmakers Urged to Help Preserve, Protect and Defend Quality Nursing Home Care

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Congress prepares to reconvene next week following an August recess replete with wide-ranging local discussion of how to fund health care reform, new polling finds both seniors and the public at large are strongly opposed to slashing Medicare-funded nursing home care to pay for the plan. Meanwhile, at events in Florida and Pennsylvania - states with large concentrations of Medicare beneficiaries - seniors and caregivers are urging their respective state congressional delegations to help preserve, protect and defend quality nursing home care as the legislative debate resumes Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

According to a new national poll (1000 RVs, 8/21-24, +/- 3%) and analysis from the Mellman Group (D), "78% of voters nationwide predict that if Congress cuts $32 billion in Medicare payments to nursing homes, the quality of care delivered to seniors will decline. Seniors are equally concerned, as 78% of those over 65 believe nursing home care will get worse because of such cuts, and a majority believes care will get 'much worse' (58%). Those approaching retirement age (55-64) express even more concern. 83% believe care will worsen." The Mellman Group data also finds a full 66% of voters are less likely to support their local member of Congress for re-election if he or she votes for cuts to Medicare-financed nursing home care. The poll analysis is available in its entirety at www.ahca.org.

Additionally, A new CNN poll (1010 Adults, 8/28-31, +/- 3%) released 9/2) finds that by a 43% to 26% margin, Americans believe senior citizens will be "worse off," not "better off," from the health care reform proposals now being advanced. 30% said "about the same"; 1% expressed no opinion.

The 9/2 Florida Times Union, in a story entitled, "Proposed Medicare Cuts Have Nursing Homes Worried," reports on a Jacksonville-area event in which seniors' advocates and nursing home staff warned Florida's Medicare funded nursing home care benefits will be cut $3.5 billion over ten years to finance health care reform. Lisa Cantrell, President of the National Association of Health Care Assistants, spoke at the Southlake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Mandarin, FL. "To Cantrell's side, propped against a wall, was a large, scroll-like petition urging Florida's congressional delegation to rethink the cuts. . . Patricia Johnson, 68, signed the petition with her left hand, as her dominant right hand remains paralyzed from a recent stroke. 'If they have to cut staff here,' her husband, Artie, said, 'it would be down to what I would call the bare minimum.' He added his name, too."

The 9/4 Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, in a story entitled, "Residents Petition Against Any Medicare Cuts," reports that "Caregivers, residents and family members gathered at the Riverstreet Manor Nursing Home Thursday to sign a petition to members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation asking that any health care reform bill does not include crippling cuts in Medicare funding." The story notes "Representatives of The Coalition to Protect Senior Care are touring the country's nursing homes asking them to urge their respective members of Congress not to support the currently proposed health care reform measure as long as it includes Medicare funding cuts for seniors in nursing homes by more than $32 billion over 10 years. In Pennsylvania, which would be the seventh hardest hit state, the cuts would total $2.1 billion. In the 11th Congressional District alone, where Riverstreet Manor is, the loss over the next decade would be about $142 million."


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SOURCE American Health Care Association
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