Long-term care coalition fights proposed Medicare, Medicaid cuts

A coalition of long-term caregivers has sounded an alarm in response to President Obama’s proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts included in his deficit reduction package announced last week.

Noting key direct care jobs in skilled nursing facilities will be affected by more funding reductions and ultimately could compromise access to skilled nursing care for seniors, the Coalition to Protect Senior Care (CPSC) pointed to $42 billion in Medicare cuts over 10 years directed at post-acute care providers as impossible to implement without affecting the delivery of long-term care.

“We cannot move blindly forward with these cuts,” said Joleann Beene, RN, RAC-CT, CDONA, with the Nurse Executive Council (NEC), a member of the CPSC. “It is incumbent upon us to make our lawmakers and the president fully aware that more deep funding cuts to skilled nursing care cannot be considered in isolation because our facilities have already been faced with a series of devastating reductions implemented over the last several years.

“Seniors’ ability to obtain needed care will be affected and caregivers will lose their jobs and that is not a positive outcome for long-term care in this country.”

Beene urged the president and members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to consider the cascade of cuts already imposed on skilled nursing care that amount to more than $125 billion over the next decade. Another round of funding cuts could force LTC facilities to make difficult choices, with some even closing as baby boomers begin to require long-term healthcare services. Fewer LTC facilities coupled with higher demand for services could mean some seniors will not have access to the care they need, CPSC argued.

“America’s rural towns are some of the most seriously threatened overall by the sluggish economy and worrisome unemployment rate,” said Maggie Elehwany, president of the National Rural Health Association and a member of CPSC. “Skilled nursing facilities are often the biggest employer in rural towns and the only facility for miles that can provide care for seniors.”

The Coalition to Protect Senior Care is traveling the country urging caregivers, their residents and the family members of elderly Americans to help “tell the story of long-term care in America,” according to a CPSC statement.

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