Providers defend nursing homes in Senate hearing

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Providers strongly defended themselves Tuesday at a congressional hearing to consider freezing Medicare reimbursements for skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies.

Bruce Yarwood, CEO of the American Health Care Association, pointed out that annual cost of living increases are integral to providing quality care. He also told members of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee that skilled nursing facilities have the lowest overall operating margins of all major healthcare providers.

The hearing was part of an effort to find $100 billion in savings to fund other healthcare proposals, such as expanding children's coverage under Medicaid and SCHIP. Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-CA) said the reduction could cut $1.5 billion over five years from skilled nursing facilities and hospices.