Challenge is on to preserve Medicare, Medicaid funds

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Bruce Yarwood, AHCA CEO
Bruce Yarwood, AHCA CEO
Lawmakers passed federal spending measures recently, but in their haste to wrap up business they also left some work on the table. 

After passing bare-bones legislation prior to the holidays, legislators were to resume discussions on the Medicare Part B therapy caps exceptions process. It was extended, but only until June 30. Doctors also are expected to receive a 0.5% increase in the payment update for just six months. 

Both Medicare and Medicaid funding continues to remain precarious for nursing homes in 2008, officials say. Details of the president's budget proposal, which was to be released earlier this month, were not available as of press time.

In March, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission will formally advise Congress freeze to Medicare payment levels to nursing home.

Provider advocates, however, have been re-emphasizing to Congress the importance of Medicare funding to cover Medicaid shortfalls. 

“By ignoring Medicaid, MedPAC's analysis and recommendations do not present an accurate picture of the long term care marketplace,” said Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association. 

AHCA, the National Center for Assisted Living and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care last month unveiled a program that they said would create a more consumer-oriented long-term care system.