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National Coalition of Front-Line Skilled Nursing Clinicians: Bipartisan Momentum to Stop CMS Medicare Regulation, Subsequent Funding Cuts, Grows in Congress
Date:7/29/2009

Caregiver Coalition Applauds Congressional Outcry Over Proposed Regulation That Would Cut Billions From Medicare Funding for Skilled Nursing Care

WASHINGTON, July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Coalition to Protect Senior Care (CPSC) -- a national coalition of front-line clinicians and caregivers dedicated to ensuring the ongoing provision of quality skilled nursing care -- today commended the growing bipartisan call from U.S. Senate and House leaders to rescind a proposed Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) rule that, if finalized, would inflict $16 billion Medicare funding cuts to seniors' skilled nursing facility (SNF) care over the next 10 years. In new letters to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, lawmakers warn the Medicare regulation places seniors' care at risk, and threatens 30,000 long term care jobs.

In a July 27th letter from U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to the HHS Secretary, the Senator warns:

"As you know, stable Medicare funding for SNF care is essential because of significant and historic underpayments by state Medicaid programs, which have been especially hard hit in the current economic climate. Moreover, skilled nursing care has repeatedly been shown to be cost-effective treatment for patients with longer term health care needs ... It is my understanding that the proposed regulation does not account for the increasing complexity of care provided to SNF patients and more analysis is needed to understand other market factors that may impact the SNF case mix ... It is my hope that the Administration will refrain from finalizing the forecast error proposal until Congress secures passage of its health reform legislation so that we can work collaboratively with the SNF community to contain cost growth in the sector while protecting recent improvements in quality of care and patient outcomes ..."

In a July 21st letter from U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), the Senator writes:

"I am 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) goes forward with a proposed regulation that will drastically cut Medicare funding for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). This proposal will reduce Medicare payments to SNFs by a projected $16 billion over ten years, and I am concerned such cuts could jeopardize patient care in addition to as many as 30,000 jobs ... At the same time, Congress is undertaking an historic reform of the health care system that may include potential changes to SNF reimbursement policies, and we must consider the effects of these changes in combination, not isolation. . ."

These communications add to the growing collection of bipartisan letters issued by the following legislators, with each expressing concern about the negative impact of the CMS rule on the provision of quality long term care and asking the Administration to hold issuance of the final rule while Congress considers health care reform:

  • July 20th letter from U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • July 17th letter from U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (O-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Carper (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  • July 8th letter from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, U.S. Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Al Green (D-TX), David Scott (D-GA), Diane Watson (D-CA), Kendrick Meek (D-FL), William "Lacy" Clay (D-MO), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ed Towns (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Donna Christensen (D-VI), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Henry Johnson (D-GA), John Lewis (D-GA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Robert Scott (D-VA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Artur Davis (D-AL), Corrine Brown (D-FL) and Andre Carson (D-IN)
  • June 26th letter led by U.S. Representatives Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), signed by 122 members of Congress

"We are grateful for this bipartisan outpouring of support from lawmakers who agree this regulation presents a danger to seniors' nursing home care and to front-line caregivers' jobs," said Lisa Cantrell, a co-founder of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), and a national spokesperson for the CPSC. "The CPSC national membership strongly supports fair, meaningful reform -- and we will enthusiastically embrace a reform bill that protects seniors' care and promotes a strong direct care workforce. Unfortunately, the bill we now see in the U.S. House of Representatives does not meet these criteria. We will ask lawmakers during the August recess to help fix the bill in a manner that is fair, protects seniors and preserves jobs."

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); 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 Nurse Executive Council.


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SOURCE Coalition to Protect Senior Care
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