Advertising Campaign To Oppose Cuts To Medicare For America's Nursing Home Patients

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Cuts to Medicare and Nursing Homes

The American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care launched an advertising campaign to educate Members of Congress and the public about the severe repercussions that would result from deep cuts to Medicare.

Proposals calling for nearly $11 billion in cuts to Medicare over the next five years would have a negative impact on seniors who rely on this benefit for skilled nursing care. While nursing homes receive only 4.8% of Medicare dollars, the proposals call for nursing homes to absorb 26% of the cuts in 2008 alone. Proposals also call for cuts to the nation's Medicaid programs, which fund care for two out of three nursing home patients, and which studies show already underfund nursing home care by $4.5 billion a year.

The proposed Medicare cuts come at a time when the quality in nursing homes is improving. A GAO report released this week, says that from 2000 to 2005 - a period during which Medicare payments to SNFs stabilized - the number of facilities with serious deficiencies declined nearly 40%. More importantly, nursing homes have improved care in several key clinical areas during this time period. Government funding is crucial to maintaining such improvements and strengthening America's long term care infrastructure, since nearly 80 percent of nursing home patients are covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

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"It is no coincidence that nursing homes have achieved significant quality improvements in recent years, while Medicare funding has been stable," said Alan Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance. "Nursing homes consistently have the lowest operating margins among health care providers. The proposed cuts in Medicare would jeopardize continued quality progress. This campaign is designed to help policymakers and the public understand the damage these cuts would cause, not just to the millions of Medicare beneficiaries who receive care in America's skilled nursing homes each year, but also to the hundreds of thousands of workers who provide patients with quality care."

"We are working hard to ensure that the most frail, elderly and disabled citizens will continue to have ready access to quality long term care - today and in the decades ahead," remarked Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of AHCA. "Policymakers have worked with the long term care profession to help bring about quality improvement initiatives, but proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts are bad policy that will hurt those who need help the most and the caregivers who provide this care. The shared commitment has led to improvements in key areas of quality, including pain management and a reduction in depression for our patients."

Both organizations hope the ads will help educate Members of Congress about the impact cuts would have on both access to care and jobs. The ads will appear in DC metropolitan area publications beginning today. The organizations plan to continue advertising throughout the budget debate.

The American Health Care Association is the nation's leading long term care organization. AHCA and their membership are committed to performance excellence and Quality First and represent nearly 11,000 non-profit and proprietary facilities dedicated to continuous improvement in the delivery of professional and compassionate care provided daily by millions of caring employees to more than 1.5 million of our nation's frail, elderly and disabled citizens who live in nursing facilities, assisted living residences, subacute centers and homes for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

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