Senators start paying long-term care notice

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A year ago, if you can remember, the long-term care community was concerned about being part of any meaningful healthcare reform. It now seems that it is receiving some of the attention it has been craving.

This week, for example, amid reports that the White House was losing interest in the long-term care disability insurance program, the administration released a report reiterating its support for the program (better known as the CLASS Act). Make no mistake: If this legislation came to pass, it would fundamentally change long-term care in the United States.

Also this week, among more than 560 amendments introduced in the Senate Finance Committee, a few applied to long-term care. One says that Congress should address long-term care services and supports. Another amendment would tie federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) increases to states that expand their Medicaid funding to home- and community-based services (hmm … interesting).

Assisted living advocates, meanwhile, are praising the inclusion of an amendment that would eliminate prescription drug co-payments for dual-eligible residents. Yet another would extend the Medicaid “prompt pay” rule, which would expedite reimbursements for hospitals and nursing homes.

Groundbreaking actions? Maybe not. But they show that long-term care, at least, is part of the healthcare discourse.

All of this comes, of course, as Congress figures out if and how it will lop off billions from the Medicare program. Nursing homes are fighting desperately to dissuade Congress from eliminating or reducing an annual Medicare cost-of-living increase. This market-basket update helps nursing homes make up for Medicaid under-funding.

As well-known Ben Stein says in an interview this week with McKnight's Editor Jim Berklan, if Congress plans to cut more than $500 billion from Medicare, payments to senior care without question would be cut. (The interview, which was filmed at the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing and Care Industry conference in Chicago, is available for viewing on the right-hand side of the McKnight's home page.)

So, it's safe to say long-term care is getting attention. Unfortunately, some of it (ie., Medicare reductions), is not exactly favorable.


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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.