Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Kenneth Thorpe Politico Op-Ed: Sequestration Wipes Out CMS Payment Update for U.S. Nursing Homes

"Disingenuous to Suggest Provider Payment Cuts of This Magnitude Will Not Impact Beneficiaries"

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) today praised a new Politico op-ed <> by Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Kenneth Thorpe correctly noting that not only will sequestration "effectively wipe out" a recent 1.8% payment update to U.S. nursing homes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but that it is also "disingenuous to suggest that provider payment cuts of this magnitude will not impact beneficiaries."

Holtz-Eakin and Dr. Kenneth Thorpe are the co-chairs of the Partnership for the Future of Medicare, a bipartisan, nonprofit organization focused on improving the health care of Medicare beneficiaries and ensuring the sustainability of the program.

Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance, commended Holtz-Eakin and Thorpe for specifically pointing to the plight of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and their patients in the sequestration debate: "We applaud Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Kenneth Thorpe for not only noting sequestration will decimate the 1.8% SNF CMS update, but they have also helped spotlight how SNF payment cuts can indeed have a negative impact on beneficiaries no matter what anyone says to the contrary."

Rosenbloom said that with nearly 70 percent of facility expenses related to staffing, the impact of federal Medicare cuts combined with a fragile state Medicaid system causes significant difficulties in regard to hiring and retaining the direct care staff that help make a significant difference in care quality and patient outcomes. 

"Any facility that may be forced to reduce staff salaries, defer or alter staff benefits, or cancel investments in new equipment and technology due to cumulative Medicare and Medicaid funding reductions, will inevitably face a threat to their ongoing ability to provide quality patient care," the Alliance leader noted.    

Even before sequestration, Rosenbloom pointed out, SNFs and their patients already face nearly $4 billion in Medicare funding reductions in 2013-14, and a $65 billion reduction over 10 years as a result of several different federal budgetary actions and regulatory changes made by Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) since 2009. (Source: Avalere).  

Ellen Almond 

SOURCE The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care