Long-term care (LTC) providers are fighting to keep Washington budget-cutters from slashing nursing home and home care program funding.
Lobbying efforts are heating up as the Obama administration squares off with Republican House leaders over efforts to avoid "the fiscal cliff" -- a provision in an old budget compromise deal that could lead to $500 billion in automatic spending cuts and automatic tax increases during the first 9 months of 2013.
Congress included the provision in the old budget deal to try to force Democrats and Republicans to come up with a deficit-reduction plan, or else face the possibility of the deal provision itself starting a sobering deficit-reduction process.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice is continuing with its "legislation action network" program, in which it asks members to write members of the group and anyone else with an interest in home care to write to members of Congress to oppose Medicare home health care funding cuts.
The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC), a nursing home group, has launched an initiative to defend a specific strategy some states use to fill gaps in funding for skilled nursing home facility (SNF) care for the very sick and the very poor.
Current proposals call for cuts in maximum use of provider assessments that could have the effect of taking away $11.3 billion to $21.8 billion in desperately needed SNF bridge funding, according to Alan Rosenbloom, the president of AQNHC.
About 40 states have already had to freeze or cut Medicaid funding for nursing home care since 2009, and the federal government already is on track to make matters worse, by reducing the total amount of funding slated to go to SNFs over the next 10 years by $65 billion, Rosenbloom said.
Changes in the provider assessment rules "would be harmful to SNF patients and detrimental to staffing stability,” Rosenbloom said. “Limiting provider assessments will also shift still more Medicaid costs onto state budgets at a time the nation’s governors are already struggling to pay for a wide range of other onerous federal mandates.”
Meanwhile, an acute care hospital group, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH), has posted videos and position papers on the Web in an effort to ward off Medicaid cuts.
"Medicaid touches us all," NAPH President Bruce Siegel said in a statement. "Everyone suffers when already limited safety net funding is cut."
The kinds of hospitals that serve Medicaid patients employ about 800,000 people, Siegel said.
"Even modest cuts to Medicaid put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk and would bleed billions of dollars in federal support to states," he said.