Provider organization won't seek waiver to rule on employee insurance

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Home-based stroke rehab is as successful as formal rehab programs, researchers find
Home-based stroke rehab is as successful as formal rehab programs, researchers find

A leading long-term care provider organization said it would not seek a waiver for its members on mandated employee health insurance under a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The American Health Care Association emphasized Monday it will continue to support the ACA. It also told McKnight's that it would not seek a waiver from the employee mandate. Many nursing homes had bristled at the part of the Affordable Care Act that requires businesses with over 50 employees to provide health insurance or face a stiff penalty. These operators say that providing insurance could force them to pass costs down to residents. They became the target of criticism after an initial May New York Times article framing their views.

Nearly all AHCA members currently provide health coverage for their employees, noted AHCA senior director of public affairs Beth Martino on Monday. For a variety of reasons, however, some staff elect not to participate in an employer-provided coverage plan, she added.

“There are still some facilities that face challenges in meeting this forthcoming requirement because they serve a very high population of residents that rely on Medicaid,” Martino said. “AHCA is not seeking a waiver or change to the law. We are working to find some options within in the regulatory process for those facilities so we can help ensure they can keep their doors open and continue serving those that require long term care.”

LeadingAge, which represents not-for-profit long-term care providers, has also said it will not push back on mandated health insurance for nursing home employees. In a response to the New York Times article, LeadingAge president and CEO Larry Minnix said there is a hidden cost to not providing health insurance.

"These costs include absenteeism and productivity loss," he wrote. "In addition, nursing homes that do not offer health insurance are hampered in their ability to recruit and retain highly-qualified staff. This not only affects the bottom line, but also can impact quality of care. In long-term services and supports, in which the workforce is primarily female and often caring for children and older parents, there is the additional stress of balancing their personal and professional caregiving responsibilities. Therefore, helping to stabilize their lives with health insurance is even more essential."

The administration said Friday it will stop a program providing exemptions for many employers offering basic insurance coverage to workers, The New York Times reported. ACA exemption requests are due Sept. 22, and those that are granted or renewed will run through 2013. To date, the administration has granted waivers to 1,433 health plans covering 3.2 million people.

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