Medicare Cuts Pose Disproportionate Threat to West Virginia's Rural Seniors, Local Jobs Base

WHAT: As Congress begins to consider possible cuts to seniors' Medicare Part A skilled nursing facilities benefit, an analysis of Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data finds five-year $2.7 billion cuts -- like those proposed at the onset of the SCHIP debate -- pose a disproportionate threat to West Virginia's rural seniors, and to the jobs and employment base of the state's rural communities.

The Medicare cuts now being considered by Congress would have a disproportionately negative impact on rural facilities, according to a new analysis of CBO data by the American Health Care Association (AHCA). With 50% of West Virginia's nursing homes located in rural areas, seniors residing in these facilities would suffer an average per-day Medicare cut of $11.59 over five years, according to the data. A cut of this size, per day, undermines the ability of nursing homes operating on ever-slimmer budgets to continue to deliver quality of care to the frail elderly.

In West Virginia, as in most rural communities, skilled nursing facilities are not generally within close proximity to one another, and are more widely dispersed geographically. Consequently, rural facilities' ability to hire, train and retain key direct care staff will be severely compromised if Medicare cuts are enacted into law.

With a final decision on Medicare cuts to be determined within the next several weeks, long term care providers are urging West Virginia's U.S. Senators and the entire congressional delegation, to ensure Medicare funding cuts for West Virginia's seniors are not an option.

WHO: Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association -- the nation's largest organization of long term care providers -- will provide the Capitol Hill perspective and discuss in a national context how the Medicare cuts would severely damage the nation's long term care infrastructure just as baby boomers begin entering retirement in ever larger numbers.

Jesse Samples, Executive Director of the West Virginia Health Care Association (WVCA), will speak to the state impact of slashing Medicare funding and the specific impact on rural skilled nursing facilities.

Shawn Eddy, Executive Administrator of Marmet Center in Marmet, WV, will discuss the challenges faced by rural skilled nursing facilities regarding staffing issues and the quality of care currently provided to skilled nursing residents should Congress impose Medicare cuts.

Lisa Cantrell, RN, C, President and co-founder of the National Association of Health Care Assistants and a founding member of the national Coalition to Protect Senior Care, will address the role of the frontline caregivers in skilled nursing facilities and the direct impact Medicare cuts could have on the patients they serve.

WHEN: NOVEMBER 16, 2007 - 1:30 P.M. EST **To participate in the teleconference, please dial (866) 244-4637 and ask for the Long Term Medicare Cuts to West Virginia Seniors ** To RSVP, please contact Rebecca Reid at 1-410-212-3843 or [email protected]

SOURCE American Health Care Association