Access to nursing homes would dim under Republican proposal, AGS warns

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Provisions of the recently released American Health Care Act could jeopardize seniors' access to long-term care, the American Geriatrics Society warned last week.

The group voiced its opposition to the the GOP's Affordable Care Act replacement bill in a statement published Thursday, saying its experts believe the legislation “would harm access” to services for seniors as well as hurt caregivers and healthcare professionals.

Among the AGS' concerns is the bill's Medicaid provisions, which would shift the program to include per capita funding caps. The proposed changes have earned backlash from long-term care provider groups despite assurances from Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., that the caps would put the program “on a sustainable path.”

“With reduced federal funding for Medicaid and increased costs imposed on states, key services for older adults could be cut, impacting access to long-term services and supports, nursing homes, and home healthcare for the millions of older adults and caregivers who rely on these resources for well-being,” the AGS said. “Ten million people with Medicare rely on this funding, and may be subject to fewer services, reduced care quality, and increased care costs under the current proposal.”

The group also objected to GOP provisions that would phase out existing Medicaid expansions, repeal the Hospital Insurance tax for high-income individuals, and repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

AGS urged lawmakers to include ways to expand seniors' long-term care options, help Medicare beneficiaries better understand their coverage and include seniors' unique health needs in value-based purchasing programs as the legislation moves forward.

“Policy changes that would increase costs, reduce coverage, or cut benefits put health, independence, and quality of life at risk for all of us as we age,” said CEO Nancy E. Lundebjerg, MPA. “We are committed to working with Congress and the Trump Administration on meaningful reforms that would improve healthcare, for example, by reducing regulatory burdens, but we continue to oppose changes like those proposed in the American Health Care Act, which might jeopardize access to high-quality, person-centered, and affordable health coverage for all older Americans.”