As Obama addresses Congress tonight, long-term care continues to weigh in on healthcare reform

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President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

Long-term care providers are likely to tune in tonight as President Barack Obama speaks about healthcare reform to a joint session of Congress.

The community has much at stake in the reform discussion. A provision in the House bill would eliminate the Medicare market basket, which gives nursing home cost-of-living increases. The American Health Care Association estimates that the provision, combined with a new regulation cutting Medicare funding to nursing homes would result in Medicare reductions of $44 billion over 10 years. Meanwhile, some providers are rooting for a Senate legislative provision known as the CLASS Act. This provision would create a long-term care disability fund that workers can draw from if they become disabled. The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging has created a "Health Reform Hub" on its Web site to both clear up misconceptions about healthcare reform and bolster support for the CLASS Act. See it at

In related news, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) on Tuesday issued a summary healthcare reform proposal. The proposal calls for reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending through annual update reductions to hospitals and other providers. It also would create an independent Medicare Commission to make policy recommendations to Congress. Baucus is involved in talks with five other senators to craft a healthcare reform proposal.