Congress

Holidays, congressional visits on provider wish lists

Long-term care providers are not only preparing residents, staff and special work cycles for year-end holidays. Many are also looking to capitalize on lawmakers being home from Washington by inviting them for a visit.

Long-term care advocacy group cheers executive order barring arbitration agreements, urges further action

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A prominent long-term care consumer advocacy group hailed a recent executive order banning certain government contractors from using arbitration agreements, saying this is a step toward eliminating these agreements in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Providers intensify efforts to influence Congress

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More than 400 long-term and post-acute care professionals from across the country completed meetings with their respective federal lawmakers Wednesday in Washington. The meetings were the conclusion of the annual Congressional Briefing event hosted by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living.

Sleeper measures could cut Medicare payments to skilled care operators

Sleeper measures could cut Medicare payments to skilled care operators

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As far as skilled care is concerned, most recent reporting on a major Medicare bill has all but overlooked what's in the bill for the sector. And it's not trivial.

Docs might get a raise, and long-term care might get a bill

Docs might get a raise, and long-term care might get a bill

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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.

A 'Super' physician-pay fix in the making?

A 'Super' physician-pay fix in the making?

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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.

Time for long-term care to take a lesson from the NRA?

Time for long-term care to take a lesson from the NRA?

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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.

Long-Term Care Commission seeking provider input

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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.

AHCA members zero in on quality on Capitol Hill

AHCA members zero in on quality on Capitol Hill

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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.

Pssst, here's how the LTC lobby can eliminate the 3-day rule — and gain other Congressional perks

Pssst, here's how the LTC lobby can eliminate the 3-day rule — and gain other Congressional perks

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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.

One week to go: Providers anxious about Medicare automatic spending cuts

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.

House Republicans aim to block board's Medicare authority

House Republicans aim to block board's Medicare authority

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).

Beware of hospital observation loopholes

Beware of hospital observation loopholes

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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.

Preserving the status quo costs more than ever

Preserving the status quo costs more than ever

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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.

Campaign 2012 boosted importance, value of nursing home care in public policy dialogue

Campaign 2012 boosted importance, value of nursing home care in public policy dialogue

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.

LTC, other healthcare sectors to blitz administration about sequestration cuts, possible alternatives

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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.

Best is yet to come? Don't tell that to providers

Best is yet to come? Don't tell that to providers

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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.

Post-election Congressional action might not be so 'lame'

Post-election Congressional action might not be so 'lame'

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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.

First presidential debate leaves long-term care operators with many questions, few answers

First presidential debate leaves long-term care operators with many questions, few answers

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If you're wondering what Wednesday night's presidential debate means for long-term care, you have plenty of company.

Analysis: Medicare sequester cuts would reduce SNF payments by $9 billion over 10 years

Analysis: Medicare sequester cuts would reduce SNF payments by $9 billion over 10 years

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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.

Nursing home group heightens lobbying for Medicaid funding before November elections

Nursing home group heightens lobbying for Medicaid funding before November elections

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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.

VP nominee Ryan a saving grace?

VP nominee Ryan a saving grace?

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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.

White House will reach a decision on 2% cut to Medicare providers within 30 days

White House will reach a decision on 2% cut to Medicare providers within 30 days

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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.

Let's hope they don't give war a chance

Let's hope they don't give war a chance

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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.

House repeals Medicare payment advisory board

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As expected, the House of Representatives repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board Thursday afternoon.

CBO: Federal healthcare spending could double by 2022

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.

Congress returns to full action; focus turns back to therapy cap process, docs and State of the Union

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 operators join the rest of the nation in wondering: Will Congress pull a rabbit out of its hat?

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.

Skilled nursing facilities are at risk for falling into negative revenue margins, analysis reveals

Skilled nursing facilities are at risk for falling into negative revenue margins, analysis reveals

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.

Because We The People demand it!

Because We The People demand it!

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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.

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