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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is facing increased pressure to phase in proposed pay cuts for skilled nursing facilities from federal lawmakers. 

Two groups of House and Senate lawmakers, in separate letters to CMS, urged the agency to reconsider its plans to lower Patient Driven Payment Model rates by 4.6% to account for unintentional overpayments. The net result would be a $320 million pay cut for SNFs in fiscal 2023 if fully approved by CMS. The lawmakers also asked for reexamination of the agency’s planes to establish mandatory minimum staffing levels at SNFs. 

The Senators, Jon Tester (D-MT), argued in their late June letter that proposed payment cuts would exacerbate current challenges and potentially lead to the closure of rural facilities.

“Rural America simply cannot afford to lose any more of these facilities, which is why we urge CMS to assure some predictability and stability to the sector by changing course and phasing-in any parity adjustment cuts over a three-year period,” the lawmakers wrote

The House members, led by Rep. Jose Luis Correa (D-CA), also called for a three-year phase-in of the finalized parity adjustment so payment reductions would be lessened in fiscal year 2023. They also expressed concerns about implementing a minimum staffing mandate without an increased supply of caregivers.

“Our constituent facilities usually compete with large health systems that pay significantly higher wages and benefits. Due to the higher prevalence of Medicaid patients in these centers and the financial fragility of these communities we are concerned that the mandates may be unattainable,” the lawmakers wrote

The American Health Care Association has previously said spreading the PDPM cuts over three years is a more humane way for operators to deal with the government’s desire to reclaim funding.

AHCA on Tuesday expressed hopes of working with the administration to find a mutually agreeable outcome, but warned that without compromise action, the fallout would be severe.

“Hundreds of nursing homes across the country have already been forced to permanently close their doors, and the proposed Medicare cuts will put even more facilities in jeopardy of shutting down and displace thousands of seniors,” AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson said.