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Long Term Care Sector Supports and Is Well-Positioned to Advance Health Care Reform, Bolster Economic Stimulus

MedPAC Recommendations, Worsening State Budget Crisis Threaten Seniors' Access to Quality Care, LTC Jobs Base

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Commenting on the legislative year ahead as well as the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's (MedPAC) initial comments today that skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) should not receive a market basket cost of living update for FY 2010, the nation's leading long term care advocacy organizations today said the sector supports and is well-positioned to help President-elect Obama and the incoming 111th Congress advance broad-based health care reforms, in addition to serving as a cornerstone in the effort to bolster the new Administration's economic stimulus initiatives.

Regarding the MedPAC recommendation, the leaders of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care warned strongly that failure to adequately fund Medicare -- coupled with looming threats to Medicaid funding due to the national recession and worsening state budget crisis -- threatens seniors' continued access to quality care, jeopardizes the very jobs that are a critical factor in ensuring quality of care, and undermines the overall capacity of the long term care system itself as demographic trends portend greater utilization.

"While we recognize that all Americans will be called upon to sacrifice and support our national priorities, we must be careful not to jeopardize a sector that cares for many low and moderate-income seniors, and is a source of job creation given the current 100,000 employee vacancies in the long term care sector -- especially in direct care giving positions," stated Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of AHCA.

Yarwood pointed to a recent Lewin & Associates analysis which highlights the fact that every dollar invested in a long term care facility supports approximately five dollars of additional economic activity. "The long term care sector contributes significantly to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and plays a vital role in America's economic health," the AHCA leader continued. "Stable financing, through the Medicare and Medicaid programs, is critical to sustain seniors' access to quality nursing home care -- and will have a direct, positive impact on the economy by ensuring job growth, new hires and retention of staff, and new hires in nursing facilities nationwide."

Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance, said, "The long term care sector supports -- and is well-positioned -- to help the incoming Obama Administration and new Congress advance the systemic health care reforms we all know are necessary, while simultaneously serving as an effective cornerstone in the effort to boost our ailing national and state economies. From a Medicare policy standpoint, we are on the same page with the President-elect and Congress that we must finally fulfill the mission of providing patients with quality care at the lowest, most cost-effective rate - across the complete spectrum of care. This is one of our sector's major priorities for 2009 and beyond, and we look forward to working cooperatively with the President-elect and Congress to achieve this vital health policy objective."

Rosenbloom also urged that, particularly in the year ahead, the new Administration, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and MedPAC should base budget and policy decisions on the true economic conditions nursing facilities face in today's marketplace. "When assessing the adequacy of Medicare funding for the nation's nursing facility patients, and making subsequent recommendations to Congress, MedPAC should be obligated as a matter of basic responsibility to thoughtfully evaluate the overall economic conditions in which the long term care sector operates," Rosenbloom said. "By ignoring on a wholesale basis the substantial losses nursing homes face due to inadequate Medicaid payments -- a gap sure to grow given widening state budget gaps -- MedPAC's posture in regard to a necessary cost of living adjustment is damaging to seniors, puts key long term care jobs at risk, and undermines the sector's ability to be a meaningful part of the solution to our current health care and economic challenges."

SOURCE American Health Care Association
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