Long-term care providers find silver linings among healthcare reform proposals

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Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) serves on the Senate Finance Committee.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) serves on the Senate Finance Committee.

After two days and more than 560 proposed amendments, adjustments to the Senate Finance Committee healthcare proposal are still a long way from being completed, but long-term care providers have found at least a few plums among them.

Assisted living advocates are hailing inclusion of amendment that would eliminate prescription drug co-payments for dual-eligible residents. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the proposal, which has been praised by an array of assisted living groups. Another change would be an extension of the Medicaid "prompt pay" rule, which would expedite reimbursements for hospitals and nursing homes. It was put forward by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who has been at the center of the Finance Committee debate in recent weeks, and is likely to have several wishes granted if she ultimately goes along with the Democrat-designed bill. Also, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has suggested improving the Medicare hospice benefit by allowing patients receiving hospice care to remain eligible for all other Medicare services during that time.

The Senate committee marking up the overall proposal, however, spent at least an hour Wednesday debating a single amendment: one that would likely put off a final vote on the bill for at least two weeks while the text of the bill could be converted into "legalese." Such deliberations continue to cast clouds over the future of healthcare reform.

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