Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Fear Medicaid Cuts After Political Shake-Up

The November 5, 2010 election brought about some changes in the federal government, with the Republican party earning the majority of seats needed to take over the House of Representatives. Healthcare reform has been a major bone of contention between Democrats and Republicans since Barack Obama was elected U.S. President in 2008, and the GOP-controlled House now has the power to block some major reform proposals. The fact that Republicans failed to earn the majority needed to take control of the Senate, however, should make for some interesting political discourse over the next several months as both sides fight to secure their stance in the heated healthcare debate. U.S. Senate

Nursing homes, which have benefited from Democratic-led enhanced Medicaid funding for states,  have expressed particular concern over the shake-up. Kaiser Health News reports on several credible news outlets who have covered the issue, including The Hill, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, and Modern Healthcare. According to The Hill, nursing homes and assisted living facilities rely on Medicaid payments for approximately two-thirds of resident funding, and a return to the standard federal rate could prove devastating financially.

If Medicaid spending is cut, the CLASS Act is one component of reform that could help fill in the gaps. However, few employers have signed up to participate in the program thus far. Further, some Republican leaders are moving to repeal the CLASS Act out of fear that it, too, will incur additional government spending if employee contributions aren’t sufficient to cover costs.

According to Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), long-term care was an issue that hasn’t received the necessary attention so far in the ongoing healthcare reform debate. He says the AHCA has reached out to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Brookings Institution to create pilot programs that would revamp the current payment system: Instead of issuing payments based on the type of residential care setting, payments would be made based on each patient’s individual condition and needs.

Yarwood says that if enhanced Medicaid payments are on the table next year, the AHCA will continue to fight in favor of an extension.

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