Providers praise Senate Finance Committee for retaining market-basket update in bill

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Nursing home providers reacted positively to the release of the Senate Finance Committee's healthcare reform bill Wednesday. They were particularly pleased that the bill would not lower the market-basket update for nursing homes.

"The bottom line is he [Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)] heard us about the importance of the market basket, giving us a predictable revenue stream because Medicaid is so unpredictable state by state," Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, told McKnight's.

The association said it looks forward to working with the committee on improving care delivery in the acute-care and post-acute sectors. It urged Senate leadership to include provisions from the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act in a final bill. The act would establish a long-term care disability benefit for workers.

Meanwhile, Republicans are largely opposed to the bill. Sen Mike Enzi (R-WY), a member of the so-called "Gang of Six" who worked alongside Baucus for the last several weeks, said the bill "still spends too much and... does too little to cut health care costs for those with health insurance." Sen Charles Grassley (R-IA), also one of the six, pre-empted the bill's release with a critical statement sent to reporters on Tuesday evening. Grassley said the bill was not yet ready, and he could not support it in its current form. Baucus is taking flak from the left side of the aisle as well, most notably for not including a so-called "public option" in his plan. Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV) said because of the absence of a public option, he could not support the Finance Committee bill.