Q: Long-term care providers were disappointed by the recent failure to permanently repeal the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate. What did you tell the providers at American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living’s legislative briefing about this?
A: We’ve been close so many times. We were close this last time. I know that our new, incoming Finance chairman, [Sen.] Ron Wyden [D-OR], is very, very committed to work with all of us to be able to get this done.
Q: Would a repeal inevitably be financed through Medicare cuts to long-term care providers?
A: There are ways to pay for this that do not involve provider cuts. We’re coming home from wars and have money put aside in the Overseas Contingency Account. There’s no reason that some of those savings, that will eventually go away as the wars wind down, cannot be used to match up with the cost of the SGR. Personally, I do not feel we ought to be paying for this out of provider cuts.
Q: How soon do you think a permanent repeal could be achieved?
A: We’d like to get this done by the end of the year. I’m very hopeful. In terms of bipartisanship, when people want to get something done, they can get something done. It’s all a matter of will.