Amid Historic Recession and State Fiscal Crises, Analysis Finds $4.7 Billion Gap Between Medicaid Payments and Actual Seniors' Care Costs
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Highlighting the importance of robust federal Medicare funding for seniors and the long-term care providers they depend upon, a new Eljay LLC analysis of the nation's deteriorating Medicaid financing system projects states will cumulatively under fund the actual cost of providing quality long-term care by nearly $4.7 billion for 2009. In the context of ongoing health care reform, the Chair of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) said adequate Medicare funding in a final bill is "a literal lifeline" to the nation's oldest, most vulnerable seniors.
"As the already vast gap between the actual cost of providing quality eldercare and what the Medicaid program actually finances continues to grow, Medicare-funded nursing home care increasingly serves as a literal lifeline to providers and the 1.7 million U.S. seniors under our care," stated Robert Van Dyk, the AHCA Chair. "With so many of the nation's Governors forced to freeze or cut vulnerable seniors' Medicaid benefits and services due to catastrophic budget shortfalls - projected to grow still worse - ensuring robust Medicare funding in a final health reform bill is increasingly critical."
Van Dyk praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other key leaders for recognizing and beginning to act upon the Medicaid funding crisis plaguing seniors' eldercare needs. "The Nursing Facility Supplemental Payment Program contained within the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R.3962), represents a first step in acknowledging the nation's chronic Medicaid underfunding crisis - which we now know shortchanges seniors' nursing home care more by nearly $4.7 billion annually." He continued, however, to express concern with the level of cuts to Medicare-funded nursing home care in the House bill - $23.9 billion over ten years - in light of both the growing dependence upon Medicare to prop-up Medicaid, and the fact that Medicare cuts of up to $16 billion were just put into effect on October 1, 2009.
The AHCA Chair also commended U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) for working to include a key provision in the Senate health reform bill Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) that will help get to the root of the decade-long Medicaid under funding crisis: a provision to require the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) to review and report on Medicaid funding when making recommendations about Medicare payments. "Both the Wyden Amendment and the Nursing Facility Supplemental Payment Program in the House bill are solid, smart public policy initiatives that merit inclusion in a final health reform bill."
The largest payer for long-term care in the nation, Medicaid pays for more than two-thirds of skilled nursing facility patient-days annually. Each state sets a daily care reimbursement rate ostensibly tied to the "allowable costs" of providing care in that state - costs such as 24-hour nursing care; three meals per day with important dietary supplements; other essential care services for grooming, personal care, bathing, and eating; medical supplies such as beds and wheelchairs; social activities, and more in a number of states.
Key findings of the new Eljay LLC Medicaid report are as follows:
SOURCE American Health Care Association
|SOURCE American Health Care Association|
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