Raucous July 4 break looms as providers cheer delayed vote on 'fatally flawed' Senate bill

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The Senate has delayed a vote on its Obamacare replacement bill until after the July 4 recess due to at least five members publicly saying they couldn't vote for it. But long-term care advocates are not slowing down their fight against the bill's Medicaid cuts.

“We applaud Senate leaders' decision to delay a vote to proceed with misguided legislation that would cut and cap Medicaid,” LeadingAge officials said in a statement. “Rather than trying to re-package this fatally flawed bill, we urge Senate leaders to abandon once and for all efforts to change Medicaid's financing structure.”

The Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act is estimated to cut Medicaid funding by $772 billion, while the House version (the American Health Care Act) would cut it by $834 billion.

The American College of Health Care Administrators said Tuesday it strenuously objects to the reductions in Medicaid proposed in both bills.

The Senate bill would “severely impacting states' ability to cover long-term care services, especially those provided in skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, and many assisted living facilities nationwide,” ACHCA said. It added that “cutting long-term care coverage for Medicaid recipients will not only seriously risk the health of our aging population, but it will deny access to this care to those at lower ends of the economic scale, at a time when NO other options for these frail and elderly citizens exists.”

The potential cuts are “severe and unsustainable and potentially wrecking the future of the sector,” said Mark Parkinson, American Health Care Association President and CEO, in a call Monday. He added there was no part of the Senate bill the association could support.

Iowa Health Care Association President Steve Ackerson, meanwhile, told the Des Moines Register that more than half of all residents in the state are covered by Medicaid. Right now, skilled nursing facilities already loses $26 per day on those residents.

“Just imagine what would happen after a 20- to 25-percent cut,” he told the newspaper. He said that many nursing homes would likely go out of business.

The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (formerly AMDA) said in a statement Monday the “Medicaid provisions of this bill will be detrimental to millions of older adults.”

“As an organization representing post-acute and long-term care clinicians who take care of millions of elders and other seriously ill and disabled individuals who rely on these services, the Society urges the Senate to carefully consider any such proposals that would put the health of the patients our members treat at risk,” it said.

AARP is running ads in multiple states against the bill, and it joined eight other consumer, provider and patient groups on a national tour over their concerns.

Provider and medical groups have steadily criticized the bill, as has the Club for Growth, a conservative political group, which said Republicans promised to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined some other business industry groups, such as the National Restaurant Association, in lending their support on Tuesday.