New Bipartisan Poll Finds 69 Percent of Registered Voters Support Phasing-In Medicare Regulation Causing Ohio Job Losses, Threat

National, Ohio Eldercare Leaders Urge Ohio Congressional Delegation to Push for Regulatory Relief

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As federal lawmakers in Washington, D.C. begin making key budgetary decisions for the year ahead, a new bipartisan national survey finds 69 percent of registered voters (RVs) support the concept of phasing-in a 2011 Medicare regulation that reduced funding by 11.1 percent and, combined with state Medicaid funding reductions, has caused at least 3,000 skilled nursing facility (SNF) jobs to be lost in 333 facilities throughout Ohio, according to media reports. The federal regulation, in effect since October 1, 2011, reduced Ohio seniors' Medicare-financed SNF care by $275.1 million for FY 2012 – the sixth highest reduction nationally.

The new poll prompted Ohio and national eldercare leaders to reiterate their request for the Ohio congressional delegation to help affect a three-year phase-in of the regulation in the weeks ahead to help ease the cumulative funding squeeze now destabilizing the state's second largest health facility employer. The new bipartisan survey, conducted for the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care January 26-30 by Public Opinions Strategies/R and Hart Research Associates/D surveyed 800 RVs (700 landline/100 cell), and has an error margin of +/- 3.46 percent. The national RV sample is 38 percent Republican, 41 percent Democrat and 20 percent Independent. In regard to the federal Medicare regulation, the following question was asked:

"Last year, the federal government cut Medicare payments to nursing homes more than eleven percent in one year, in part to address an overpayment that may have been made in previous years. With respect to this cut, would it be better to ... (ROTATE 1‐2) ... or do you not have an opinion about this one way of the other?"

8%      Make these cuts over the one year time period in order to provide the federal government with an immediate savings on health care costs and provide the government with a refund for the services that were previously overpaid by Medicare.

69%    Spread these cuts over a three year time period in order to prevent further job loss at local nursing homes and to protect the quality of care nursing homes provide to America's seniors.


2%      REFUSED

"The deep recession, coupled with the recent 11.1 percent Medicare funding reduction and state Medicaid cuts, has placed quality care at risk and significantly undermined the stability of the state's SNF sector – a bedrock of job creation throughout rural, suburban and urban Ohio," stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance. "We respectfully urge Ohio lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to review these significant bipartisan polling results, and to help affect a phase-in that will help protect quality care for their most vulnerable constituents."

Peter Van Runkle, Executive Director of the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA), said the ongoing Medicare and Medicaid funding squeeze in Ohio is continuing to have a negative impact on SNF stability in facilities throughout Ohio. "The new poll makes it very clear that the general public – regardless of political affiliation – believes preserving, protecting and defending quality skilled nursing care should be a budgetary priority. With seven out of ten patients' care funded by either Medicare or Medicaid, now more than ever we need policymakers in Washington to keep in mind the fragility of a key state health care sector."

The survey also finds that after hearing that Medicare funds are used to help pay for nursing home care, 82 percent oppose reducing Medicare funding for seniors' nursing home care, and 90 percent say funding for U.S. nursing home care should either "remain the same" or "increase."  By party, 86 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Independents, and 78 percent of Republicans oppose reducing the amount Medicare pays nursing homes. Seniors (age 65+), who tend to be more affected by these cuts, are even more opposed, at 87 percent. The entire survey and results are available here.

The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care is a coalition of 10 leading post-acute and long term care organizations providing Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) care in approximately 1,400 facilities, in 44 states nationwide.

SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care