Economic stimulus package still in the works

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It’s not over yet. The Senate managed to pass a $838 billion dollar stimulus bill today. But before it can become law the House and Senate have to iron out their differences—and not just the price tag. (The House’s version was $819 billion.) This is no small hurdle.

Thankfully, nursing homes already feel relatively safe with the bill no matter the outcome of the negotiations. But it’s worth noting that there are differences between the bills that could affect how much nursing homes stand to gain.

Here is a rundown of some of the differences, according to the Senate Committee on Finance and the American Health Care Association:

Medicaid: The House bill includes a six-month extension on a moratorium on six rules that restrict funding to nursing homes; the Senate bill does not.

Federal Medical Assistance Percentage: Both bills would distribute $87 billion for the FMAP. The House version, however, offers more bonuses to states than the Senate does. (The Senate version would give 80% to states in across-the-board payments and 20% in bonuses; the House version would divide it 50-50.)

Provider payments: Under the legislation, as it stands, states could still cut funding to nursing homes while they receive FMAP funding. Unfortunately, an amendment introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) that would prohibit such action did not come up for a vote.

Another difference regarding FMAP is that under the Senate version, states that expand income eligibility levels in Medicaid would not receive an increased federal match for those newly eligible beneficiaries. The House legislation does include such a restriction.

Health Information Technology: Both pieces of legislation would offer payment incentives for providers that implement HIT.

These are the differences as the bills stand now. But the process is still fluid. Cross your fingers nursing homes get their fair share at the end.
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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.

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