AHCA, Alliance slam MedPAC for skilled nursing pay freeze recommendation; providers call for end to therapy caps

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This year's recommendations from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission don't take into account the worsening situation facing state Medicaid programs, and could prove harmful to senior care if adopted by congress, long-term care groups warned Wednesday.

Monday's MedPAC report to Congress recommends freezing the market basket update for skilled nursing facilities, a move the payment panel routinely suggests. This year, however, the freeze has been recommended against a backdrop of economic catastrophe and billions of dollars in cuts already made to both Medicare and Medicaid. The freeze would put local healthcare jobs at risk, as well as impact the quality of care provided at the nation's nursing homes, according to the American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

“MedPAC itself said just three months ago that quality in the nation‘s nursing homes has been ‘slowly improving since 2001,' and we want to keep it that way,” argued Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of AHCA, and Alan G. Rosenbloom, president of the Alliance, in a recent statement.

In other payment news, a coalition of long-term care and other healthcare groups met Wednesday to discuss the recently extended Medicare Part B therapy caps exceptions process. In a statement following Wednesday's press meeting, Larry Minnix, president and CEO of coalition member group the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, called on Congress and the Obama administration to find a more permanent solution to the therapy cap issue by either permanently extending the exceptions process or repealing the caps entirely.


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