Providers react angrily to Bush budget proposal

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Providers feel betrayed after the Bush administration released its budget proposal calling for a freeze in payments to nursing homes and home health agencies.

"This administration has partnered with the long-term care profession to bring about quality improvement initiatives and has praised the strides nursing homes have made in providing quality care, yet now they are proposing drastic cuts that would endanger quality care," said Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association.

The other large provider groups – the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging - also expressed disapproval. The 2007 budget released Monday includes proposals to cut at least $36 billion over five years from Medicare and $12 billion from the Medicaid program.

The president's proposal to cut Medicare spending could meet opposition in Congress. The House recently approved the Deficit Reduction Act, which cuts Medicaid by $4.8 billion and Medicare by $6.4 billion over five years.

The 2007 budget year begins Oct. 1.

The president also included in his plan new expenditures in healthcare aimed at fighting a possible flu pandemic and $169 million to accelerate progress in health information technology.