Nursing home caregivers gather to protest proposed Medicare cuts

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Nursing home caregivers, residents and representatives from national healthcare organizations gathered in Kennebunkport, ME, Wednesday. They came to send a petition to state lawmakers urging them not to cut Medicare funding for nursing homes.

Legislation being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives would slice funding for nursing homes by an estimated $32 billion over the next decade. These cuts would inevitably lead to staffing reductions, since up to 70% of a facility's costs are incurred through labor, according to the coalition of long-term care workers, led by Lisa Cantrell, President of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA).

One of the recipients of the petition is Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. She was the only Republican senator to vote for the Senate Finance Committee healthcare reform bill Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, released a joint statement Wednesday touting the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act in the Senate Finance Committee bill. The act would provide a comprehensive nationwide system of background checks to prevent violent offenders from gaining employment at nursing and long-term care facilities.