AQNHC, AARP: Take Medicare off the table in deficit reduction talks

Provider and senior advocacy groups are turning up the volume in the national deficit reduction conversation.

Taking issue with one of the arguments in the ongoing discussions—that Medicare funding reductions “only to providers” is somehow different than funding reductions to beneficiaries themselves—the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) yesterday urged lawmakers to “proceed cautiously in regard to accepting oversimplified slogans and falsehoods at the ultimate expense of quality care for their elderly constituents.”

Alan G. Rosenbloom, president of AQNHC, referred to a New York Times article, which yesterday reported that a former Medicare trustee said, “‘You have to be vigilant’ in cutting Medicare payments to healthcare providers because ‘there is no bright line’ between cuts that affect beneficiaries and those that affect only providers.

Stated Rosenbloom: “Because 70 percent of SNF facility costs are directly related to staffing, there is zero possibility … that ‘only’ cutting provider funding will not also result in staffing cuts and quality patient care ultimately being compromised. The logic that one can somehow de-link reductions in provider reimbursements to facilities’ ongoing ability to provide quality patient care is illusory, false and dangerous to seniors and facility employees alike.”

Rosenbloom said cutting staff within a nursing home has “a direct, immediate, negative impact on patients and their care,” and that more Medicare and Medicaid cuts on top of the many already implemented at both the federal and state levels “would force layoffs, reduce salaries and benefits and undermine quality patient care.”

In related news, AARP today launched a new national television ad, reinforcing the organization’s commitment to fighting cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits as part of any super committee deal. The national ad is part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to convince members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (super committee), to take Medicare and Social Security benefits off of the table for deficit reduction.

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