Major League teams don't celebrate World Series victories midway through the season. But politicians do the equivalent all the time. Consider a revised Medicare payment plan that was joyously unveiled on Thursday.
I suppose it's only fitting that during the week of the season's biggest football game, Washington healthcare wonks are discussing a potential huge punt of their own.
It's funny, most of the time, Congress gets along about as well as the Hatfields and the McCoys. But if there is one thought that seems to unify our elected officials, it's this: Nursing homes and other providers must be receiving too many tax dollars.
The Long-Term Care Commission is looking for feedback from providers following its second meeting held yesterday. The committee wants to hear providers' proposals before it makes recommendations to Congress at the end of September.
Providers will focus on promoting solutions to the "doc fix," bad debt and the observation stay loophole during visits with their Congressional representatives Tuesday. And they shouldn't forget the power of offering solutions to lawmakers who are constantly contending with gridlock, the head of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said at the group's spring "fly-in" gathering.
You might not be old enough to remember the "Schoolhouse Rock" videos that aired between cartoons on Saturday mornings during the 1970s. One of my favorites was "I'm Just a Bill." Long-term care novices could learn a lot from it — to a point.
All eyes will be on Congress when it reconvenes Monday. Lawmakers will have just four days to act if they are to derail automatic spending cuts that would take 2% off the top of Medicare reimbursements. Senior housing and home- and community-based care funding would have it worse, both facing funding cuts of 5.1%. Many are resigned to the idea that the highly partisan Congress will not stop the "sequestration" from hitting, unlike late last year. But how badly it will ultimately affect long-term care and other services, no one really knows. There also has been speculation that lawmakers will let the sequestration cuts hit but then act to soften their blow in the near future. One silver lining for providers: Medicaid funding would not be affected by sequestration.
Republican House leaders say they will continue to fight a part of the healthcare reform law that could lead to Medicare spending reductions without direct input from Congress. The House was scheduled to vote on rules for the 113th Congress Thursday. Part of them would include a GOP-promoted package that would disallow powers of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
Hospitals have been undergoing more and more restrictions on re-admissions and are now facing financial penalties in some situations. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in more patients not being classified as "admits" or "re-admits," but rather getting coded as "observation" stays.
As $6 billion investments go, the 2012 presidential and Congressional races didn't deliver much of a return. Except, of course, for people who like to spend money in order to keep things the way they are.
Despite the customary complaints about negativity and the avalanche of TV ads, the 2012 campaign was unusually substantive from the standpoint of the entitlement reform discussion because both sides were required to make their best arguments about how we as a nation will protect seniors' Medicare funding in an era of unprecedented fiscal chaos.
When President Obama speaks today about mandated sequestration cuts to Medicare funding, he is expected to set off the most intense period of lobbying yet among healthcare providers. Long-term care stakeholders are especially fearful of the potential compounding effect the 2% across-the-board reductions could have, given other restrictions already in play. One solution LTC lobbyists are recommending: A massive exception them from the mandate, much as the defense sector enjoys. Congress put off taking action earlier on the funding cuts but now the piper must be paid — unless lawmakers somehow act to mitigate or otherwise postpone the cuts again.
When he gave his acceptance speech Tuesday night, President Obama told the nation that "the best is yet to come." Many long-term care operators may not be in full agreement.
Like a pedestrian at a dangerous intersection, long-term care providers find themselves waiting for the stoplight to change when it comes to reimbursement policy.
If you're wondering what Wednesday night's presidential debate means for long-term care, you have plenty of company.
Skilled nursing facilities in the most populous states will be the hardest hit if Congress enacts the 2% across-the-board cut in Medicare payments to providers, two new analyses predict.
Preserving Medicaid funding remains the top priority for the largest nursing home association in the United States as Congress heads back into session this week.
Now that the Olympics are over, let politics take center stage again. Clearly, no one is interested in winning the silver medal when it comes to the race for U.S. president. But interest in second bananas IS high.
The Obama Administration has one month to issue a report detailing whether Medicare providers will see 2% across-the-board cuts based on legislation signed by the president Tuesday.
Many long-term care insiders are starting to wonder if sequestration might not be so bad after all. That's because a provision in the sequestration law caps Medicare funding cuts at 2%. All things considered, a 2% reduction is starting to look better with each passing day.
As expected, the House of Representatives repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board Thursday afternoon.
Federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid is expected to double by 2022, reaching $1.8 trillion or 7% of the entire economy, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report.
The U.S. Senate ends its recess Monday, six days after the House reconvened. That sets the stage for more intense lobbying over healthcare spending and other measures, including the Medicare Part B therapy caps exceptions process and how to fund Medicare doctors. Both were part of a two-month reprieve Congress approved shortly before Christmas. Long-term care providers and numerous other special interest groups will continue their blitz of lawmakers and their staff members in attempts to curry favor for what should be a much longer legislative solution this time. Also on tap: Watching intently Tuesday to see whether long-term care is mentioned in President Obama's State of the Union address.
Long-term care providers and other caregivers — as well as significant other groups of people around the country — will be anxiously watching to see if the Senate and the House can get together on compromise funding legislation before the end of the year. At risk with the dawning of 2012 will be major funding cutbacks to Medicare doctors, expiration of the Medicare therapy exceptions process, among other items. An impasse was created after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a package that included a two-month extension to payroll tax cuts last weekend, but then the Republican-led House voted down the same measure. Millions of people will be affected one way or another.
Nursing homes could be pushed into negative margins if Congress passes proposed end-of-the-year legislation, a new analysis finds. Skilled nursing facilities, many of which are already struggling to stay in the black, were operating at margin of 0.75% of aggregate overall revenues in 2009, according to an analysis completed by The Moran Company, on behalf of the American Health Care Association.
Patrick Henry once said, "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." Wow, how timely.
As President Obama and Congress continue to evaluate a multitude of different ways to reduce Medicare spending, it is more important than ever for lawmakers to understand the critical role nursing homes play in providing the specialized care and therapy vital to patient rehabilitation, and central to avoiding costly rehospitalizations.
Voting along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed fiscal year 2012 budget Friday.
In a 260-167 vote Thursday, the House of Representatives approved the FY 2011 budget, which President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) brokered last week. The budget passed with bipartisan support.
With Congressional Democrats and Republicans failing to reach an agreement on proposed federal funding cuts—including possible reductions to healthcare reform and entitlements—analysts are predicting a government shutdown by April 9 unless a deal is reached.