MedPAC to Congress: No marketbasket update for skilled nursing

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Nonprofit and for-profit nursing home providers expressed displeasure Tuesday after MedPAC commissioners voted not to recommend that Congress provide an inflation adjustment in Medicare funding for skilled nursing facilities in 2007.

The vote followed a similar MedPAC panel draft recommendation last month. The MedPAC recommendation will now be sent to Congress in a report in early March. Congress, along with the Bush administration, will determine the annual inflation updates for SNFs and other providers, including inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs).

Skilled nursing providers don't necessarily have to expect the worst, however. None of MedPAC's recommendations are binding; in fact, Congress has ignored similar recommendations from the panel the last two years.

While the recommendation for SNFs echoed last month's recommendation, the commissioners deviated from last month's staff recommendations regarding IRFs. Contrary to last month's recommendation, commissioners voted for a zero update for these facilities, as well.

Larry Minnix, president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, said his association is disappointed, "especially since the commission reported last month that profit margins at nonprofit SNFs are nearly zero."