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State, National Nursing Home Caregivers: Medicare Funding Cut to Long Term Care Will Jeopardize Vital Staffing Positions, Compromise Care for Maine Seniors

- Healthcare Reform Proposals in U.S. House Set to Cut Medicare Funding For Maine Seniors in Nursing Homes by Nearly $252.3 Million Over Ten Years -

Senator Olympia Snowe Thanked For Voicing Concern Regarding Nursing Homes' Unique Funding Challenges

KENNEBUNK, Maine, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Area nursing home caregivers, residents and family members gathered with representatives of a national coalition of nursing home clinicians today at Kennebunk Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to sign a petition to members of Maine's Congressional delegation asking for their support in ensuring that Medicare funding for nursing home care remains sufficient for delivering quality care for seniors and protecting local caregiver jobs. They also thanked Maine Senator Olympia Snowe for voicing her concern yesterday about the unique challenges facing nursing homes as the health care reform debate continues in Washington.

"We fully support what Congress is striving to achieve with healthcare reform. However, we believe that proposals in place to cut Medicare funding for seniors in nursing homes would place an unfair burden on our nation's most vulnerable seniors who depend upon this important care," said Lisa Cantrell, President of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) and a founding member of the Coalition to Protect Senior Care (CPSC). "We as caregivers do everything we can, day-in and day-out, to make our residents' experience a positive one, and we believe these funding reductions would lead to job cuts in important positions like these that can make a real impact on seniors' care outcomes."

Under current U.S. House of Representatives healthcare reform legislation - now in the process of being modified - Medicare funding for seniors in nursing homes would be cut by more than $32 billion over ten years, equating to a loss of nearly $252.3 million in funding for Maine seniors receiving nursing home care, according to a recent analysis conducted by the American Health Care Association (AHCA). These funding reductions come at a time when seniors' nursing home care funding has been deeply cut by Medicare in recent months as well as historically under-funded by Medicaid, thereby threatening overall quality of care and important caregiver positions, according to representatives of the CPSC, which co-hosted the event.

"Our ongoing concern with deep Medicare cuts, in conjunction with the state Medicaid funding crisis fueled by the recession, was reflected in Senator Snowe's comments yesterday following her vote on the Senate Finance Committee health care reform package," Cantrell continued. "We thank her for focusing much-needed attention on the unique challenges we face in the continued provision of quality care to the vulnerable patients we serve in Maine and across the nation."

Cantrell said that moving forward, the Coalition will continue to impress upon lawmakers that because three of every four of our nursing home patients' care is funded by Medicare and Medicaid combined -- and because facilities devote a full 70% of operating expenses to wages, benefits and other labor costs -- adequate Medicare funding levels for nursing home care as part of health reform is integral to staffing stability and quality care in Maine facilities, as it is nationwide. "Senator Snowe has been a consistent champion for the long term care community, and we urge her to keep fighting for stable Medicare funding for seniors in nursing homes as the health care reform debate moves forward," she said.

"I'm deeply concerned about what these proposed Medicare cuts will mean to our residents, and how facilities' having to cut staff positions and programs will impact residents' quality of care," said Laurie McFarren, Executive Director for Kennebunk Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. "I hope that by calling attention to our members of Congress on this need for stable funding, they will help us ensure that Maine's seniors will be able to receive the same levels of care they rely on, and that caregivers at Kennebunk and other facilities across the state can continue to provide them with this care each day."

The Coalition to Protect Senior Care (CPSC) is a national coalition of health care assistants, long term care nurses, certified nursing assistants and others who deliver round-the-clock, front-line care to seniors.

The CPSC 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.

SOURCE Coalition to Protect Senior Care

SOURCE Coalition to Protect Senior Care
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