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State, National Nursing Home Caregivers: Medicare Funding Cut to Long Term Care Will Jeopardize Vital Staffing Positions and Compromise Care for New Mexico's Seniors

Friday, September 18, 2009 General News J E 4
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- Healthcare Reform Proposals in Congress Set to Cut Medicare Funding for New Mexico's Seniors in Nursing Homes by $130.2 Million over Ten Years -

Caregivers, Residents, Family Members, Sign Petition Urging New Mexico Congressional Delegation to Stop and Revise Further Cuts to Seniors' Nursing Home Care

RIO RANCHO, N.M., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Area nursing home caregivers, residents and family members gathered with representatives of a national coalition of nursing home clinicians today at Rio Rancho Care and Rehabilitation Center to sign a petition to members of the New Mexico Congressional delegation asking for their support in ensuring that Medicare funding for nursing home care remains sufficient for delivering quality care for seniors and protecting local caregiver jobs.

Under current U.S. House of Representatives healthcare reform legislation -- which is due for a floor vote upon Congress' return from August recess -- Medicare funding for seniors in nursing homes would be cut by more than $32 billion over ten years, equating to a loss of $130.2 million in funding for New Mexico's seniors, according to a recent analysis conducted by the American Health Care Association (AHCA). These funding reductions come at a time when seniors' nursing home care funding has been deeply cut by Medicare in recent months as well as historically under-funded by Medicaid, thereby threatening overall quality of care and important caregiver positions, according to representatives of the Coalition to Protect Senior Care (CPSC), which co-hosted the event.

"We fully support what Congress is striving to achieve with healthcare reform. However, we believe that proposals in place to cut Medicare funding for seniors in nursing homes would place an unfair burden on our nation's most vulnerable seniors depending upon this important care," said Lisa Cantrell, President of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) and a founding member of the CPSC. "We as caregivers do everything we can, day-in and day-out, to make our residents' experience a positive one, and we also believe these funding reductions would lead to job cuts in important positions like these that can make a real impact on seniors' care outcomes."

According to the AHCA economic analysis, long-term care labor income in New Mexico could suffer a $4 million loss should the proposed Medicare funding cuts take effect. Cantrell noted that this loss in labor funding would lead to unavoidable layoffs, decreased salaries and cut benefits to caregivers during this time of recession, all of which would ultimately impact the quality of care delivered for seniors receiving nursing home care. The same analysis indicates 166 long term care jobs in New Mexico would be at risk in the coming year.

"As a certified nursing assistant providing care at the bedside, I'm concerned about how proposed funding cuts to my residents' care will impact them and their daily lives, as well as my own ability to continue providing them with the dedicated care they need -- particularly if I'm unable to keep my position or if I have to take a job in another facility," said Rio Rancho certified nursing assistant Barbara Frescas. "I hope that by educating our Members of Congress on the need for stable funding, we can ensure that the seniors in our state continue to receive the same levels of care they are accustomed to, and that they can continue to depend on caregivers like me to provide them with utmost care and attention each day."

Coalition to Protect Senior Care representatives said they intend to deliver copies of the signed petition to New Mexico's legislators upon their return from August recess and will continue to educate seniors, caregivers and others about the impact that additional funding cuts could bring to the nation's nursing home care.

The Coalition to Protect Senior Care (CPSC) is a national coalition of health care assistants, long term care nurses, certified nursing assistants and others who deliver round-the-clock, front-line care to seniors.

The CPSC consists of the American Association for Long Term Care Nursing (AALTCN); the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA); the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordinators (AANAC); the National Rural Health Association (NRHA); the American Association of Nurse Executives (AANEX); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA); the American Society of Health Care Administration Executives (ASHCAE); the American Health Care Association (AHCA); the American Health Quality Association (AHQA); the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL); the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA); the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care; the Coalition of Women in Long Term Care (COWL); and the Nurse Executive Council.

SOURCE Coalition to Protect Senior Care
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