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Nation's Health Care and Nursing Assistants Urge HHS to Withdraw Proposed $770 Million Funding Cut to Skilled Nursing Care

National Association of Health Care Assistants Delivers Letter to Sec. Leavitt Urging Removal of Medicare Funding Cut to Seniors' Nursing Home Care

JOPLIN, Mo., June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) -- representing the voice of more than 20,000 caregivers in more than 500 nursing homes in 29 states and the District of Columbia -- delivered a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt yesterday urging him to withdraw the Administration-proposed regulatory rule that would cut $770 million in Medicare Part A funding in 2009 and more than $4 billion over the next five years for skilled nursing facility (SNF) care.

"Speaking personally as front-line caregivers and on behalf of our collective membership, we were obligated to reach out to Secretary Leavitt in opposition to these dangerous funding cuts," said Lisa Cantrell, co-founder and president of NAHCA. "We will continue to speak out about the harm that these significant cuts would cause to our elderly and disabled facility residents, and we hope that these proposed funding cuts will soon be removed."

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Secretary Leavitt:

Acting as the voice for the nation's certified nursing assistants and health care assistants providing experience-based, peer-driven solutions to long term care - and representing more than 20,000 caregivers in more than 500 nursing homes in 29 states and the District of Columbia - we urge the Department of Health and Human Services to withhold the proposed regulatory rule that would cut $770 million in Medicare Part A funding for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in 2009 and more than $4 billion over the next five years.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering adopting this proposed rule in order to correct a forecast error made in 2005 when it revised and expanded its Medicare patient classification categories, in part to more accurately compensate skilled nursing care providers delivering medically complex care. We believe that a funding cut of this nature would harm the quality of care for America's nursing home patients, and would threaten ongoing quality improvements in facilities that are currently benefitting patients.

As caregivers delivering skilled nursing services at the bedside, we are deeply concerned that funding cuts of this nature would undermine our continued ability to provide highest-quality medically complex care and put at risk facilities' ability to sustain caregiver wages and benefit packages that match other service-oriented professions.

We respectfully urge you to withdraw the portion of the proposed rule which deals with the so-called "forecast error" and help us preserve quality care for America's skilled nursing care residents. Thank you in advance for your support on this critical issue.

SOURCE National Association of Health Care Assistants
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