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As Congress Begins Debate on Bush Budget, Front-Line Caregivers Urge Rejection of Medicare Cuts

Coalition to Protect Senior Care Praises Sens. Johnson, Collins and Reps. Berkley, Capito for Leading Bipartisan Capitol Hill Effort to Derail Proposed Five-Year, $24 Billion Medicare Cuts

JOPLIN, Mo., March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With Congress scheduled to begin hearings this week on the Bush Administration's FY 2009 budget, a coalition of front-line caregiver organizations is urging federal lawmakers to oppose an effort to cut Medicare-financed nursing home care by $24 billion over five years, and warned the proposed reductions would strike directly at the ability of staff to continue meeting the complex care needs of elderly patients, and making the investment in the staff and technology necessary to sustain intra-facility quality improvement programs.

"The budget battle in Washington is being closely monitored by our state-based caregiver organizations because the Medicare resources vital to so many extremely vulnerable patients and the front-line caregivers who serve them are definitely on the line," said Lisa Cantrell, a co-founder of the National Association of Health Care Assistants, and a national spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect Senior Care. "While the cost of providing quality care continues to rise - especially in regard to recruiting, training and retaining the key staff that make a difference in care quality and patient outcomes - the federal government should not further undermine facility capacity and patient care itself with unwise spending decisions."

Cantrell praised U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), for leading a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill to strike down the Bush Administration's Medicare cuts, and said it is essential for more members of Congress to support their efforts as the budget battle begins.

In a new letter, U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are urging Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Ranking Member Judd Gregg (R-NH) to "strongly oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the Administration's FY 2009 budget," and, says Cantrell, focusing necessary attention on how robust federal Medicare funding is essential to making up for anemic Medicaid financing. "When considering Medicare funding policy, lawmakers should look carefully at each state's ongoing ability and record of financing Medicaid spending dollar for dollar - and this simply is not occurring," Cantrell continued.

Cantrell said the Johnson-Collins letter to the Senate Budget leaders puts the Medicare-Medicaid funding relationship in succinct context:

"Despite the growing demand for long term care, the existing financing mechanisms for Medicare and Medicaid are intertwined and increasingly dysfunctional. Medicare and Medicaid funding comprise the vast majority of all skilled nursing facility (SNF) payments. The Administration's cuts are especially egregious when the drastic underfunding of Medicaid-financed SNF care is considered. For 2007, SNFs received $4.4 billion less than needed to cover the costs of providing care to Medicaid patients according to BDO Seidman. However, the Administration's FY 09 budget fails to account for this perilous situation, which will only worsen as state economies continue to decline, since it calls for nearly $24 billion in cuts to Medicare SNF funding over five years."

The Coalition to Protect Senior Care consists of the American Association for Long Term Care Nursing (AALTCN); the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA); the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (AANAC); the National Rural Health Association (NRHA); the American Association of Nurse Executives (AANEX); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA); the American Society of Health Care Administration Executives (ASHCAE); ASHCAE state affiliate members representing Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas and Utah; the American Health Care Association (AHCA); the American Health Quality Association (AHQA); the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL); the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA); the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care; the Coalition of Women in Long Term Care (COWL); and the Senior Clinician Group. For more information, visit

SOURCE Coalition to Protect Senior Care
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