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National Frontline Caregiver Coalition: Bush Administration Medicare Cuts 'Will Undercut Rural America's Nursing Home Care'

JOPLIN, Mo., May 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Continuing its efforts to mobilize opposition to the Bush Administration's planned $770 million regulatory cuts to seniors' Medicare Part A nursing home benefits in the year ahead, the Coalition to Protect Senior Care today urged federal lawmakers home over Memorial Day recess to go on record publicly opposing cuts to seniors' Medicare funding, and to better recognize how the cuts would have an especially negative impact on rural America's nursing home care.

Lori Porter, a co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants, and a founding member of the National Coalition to Protect Senior Care, based in Joplin, MO, said, "The Bush Administration's single-minded effort to implement regulatory-driven Medicare cuts will undercut care in America's rural communities, and add to facilities' already onerous challenge of contending with rising wage rates - our primary front-line cost challenge - and ever-higher energy prices."

Porter, commenting on new data released yesterday by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care detailing how the Administration-backed regulatory change will cut $133.2 million in Medicare Part A funding for rural seniors' skilled nursing care, said, "Despite the fact the Bush Administration has worked intelligently and successfully with the long term care profession to implement a variety of quality improvement programs that have helped seniors, this new effort to cut Medicare with little or no public discussion is disturbing, wrong and highly counterproductive." "Cuts to Medicare beneficiaries' nursing home care will undoubtedly raise the legitimate ire of senior and frontline caregiver alike, and to help ensure this regulation is not put into effect, we are eager to further publicize how these funding cuts will hurt rural America."

The data released yesterday finds the following in regard to how the cut will impact rural facilities and patients' care needs in the top ten impacted states:

State Rural Cut Rural PPD State Total

(in millions) (patient per day) (in millions)

OH $9.1 $11.79 $45.4

TX $8.2 $10.05 $45.7

NC $7.4 $11.09 $21.8

IL $6.6 $10.94 $42.7

PA $6.6 $11.52 $37.7

TN $6.5 $10.84 $18.8

KY $5.6 $10.84 $13.0

IN $5.3 $11.02 $23.6

MO $5.1 $10.35 $16.6

MI $4.7 $11.24 $27.4

U.S. $133.2 $10.96 $770

Porter noted rural communities in many states have higher than average numbers of elderly citizens, and that beyond serving the growing complex care needs of elderly West Virginians, rural facilities are a major local employer, and a significant part of the local economy. Funding cuts like those to soon go forward at the behest of the Bush Administration will inevitably force facilities to reduce intra-facility staffing improvement programs, and make other changes detrimental to rural seniors' care needs.

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.

Porter also said the growing front line caregiver organization will expand state-based legislative advocacy activity, and concluded, "As the policy being altered by the Bush Administration is currently helping rural facilities successfully serve higher acuity patients -- at a lower cost than other settings -- it is especially curious this policy is being pursued. It makes no sense. Front line caregivers throughout America make a key difference in patient outcomes, and we will continue to oppose all federal and state-initiated policies that further hamstring our efforts to provide the highest level of care, in every facility."

SOURCE Coalition to Protect Senior Care
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