Providers say phased-in Medicare cuts would soften final payment rule damage, slow nursing home worker layoffs

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Congress could stave off the predicted loss of 20,000 nursing home jobs by enacting a phased-in funding regulation over three years, according to one provider group.

The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care is urging Congress to consider a regulatory alternative to the 11.1% cut in Medicare reimbursement for therapy received in a skilled nursing facility. The regulation went into effect Oct. 1. Alliance President Alan G. Rosenbloom said Tuesday that a phased-in Medicare payment cut, spread over three years, could alleviate the disruption of facilities and loss of direct care workers that his organization predicted on Monday.

Rosenbloom said comparable phased-in reductions have succeeded in other healthcare sectors.

“Recent changes in Medicare payments for skilled nursing facilities took too much out of the funding system too fast, and did so at a time of significant underfunding of state Medicaid program payments for nursing home care,” Rosenbloom said.

Other nursing home provider groups, including the American Health Care Association, have advocated for more gradual cuts to make up for what providers say is an “over-correction” for therapy overpayments. Mark Parkinson, CEO of AHCA, has long advocated for a 3% cut in FY 2012 instead.

According to the results of a survey released Monday by the Alliance and Avalere Health, providers predict the Medicare PPS final rule will result in 20,000 nursing home layoffs nationwide, as well as the cancellation of 400 facility expansions or renovations and another 20,000 affiliated jobs.

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