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Key Health Provider Group Urges Collaboration in Fine Tuning Medicare Payment System for Skilled Nursing Care

Friday, May 6, 2011 General News J E 4
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Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care Expresses Desire to Work with Federal Officials to Protect Care Quality, Caregiver Jobs, and Taxpayer Accountability in Revising New Funding System

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In conjunction with a hearing today before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce in which Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified about the "Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services," the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care underscored the importance of provider - Department collaboration in recalibrating the recently implemented Medicare payment system for skilled nursing facility (SNF) care. Sharing data and other information is critical to fine tuning the system in a way that also preserves quality, protects caregiver jobs, and ensures taxpayer accountability, the Alliance said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week outlined two very different ways to revising the Medicare payment system for skilled nursing care, including one approach that would impose immediate and deep funding reductions of more than 11 percent on SNFs and the patients they serve. "We support a more measured approach one that would ensure any system-wide correction is based on meaningful data and supports quality," stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, president of the Alliance.

The Alliance leader pointed to key factors such as rising patient acuity, shrinking length of stay, escalating costs, and plummeting state Medicaid funding as important variables to consider when evaluating Medicare funding issues.

Besides noting that the SNF sector is America's second largest health facility employer after only hospitals accounting for 1.7 million jobs with a total impact of over $201 billion annually on U.S. economic activity Rosenbloom underscored the immense value of SNF care to growing numbers of Americans.

"In addition to being a vital pillar of the U.S. economy and pivotal to badly-needed economic expansion, SNFs have invested heavily in recent years to increase capabilities to admit, treat and return to home a rapidly increasing number of patients requiring intensive post-acute rehabilitation and care for multiple chronic illnesses," the Alliance leader said. "By treating these high-acuity beneficiaries in low-cost SNFs, Medicare ultimately saves funds. This should be part of the broader discussion on this important issue."

To learn more about the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, visit www.aqnhc.org.

SOURCE Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care

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