Medicare language in health reform bill pleases providers

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Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)

Providers could be heard breathing a sigh of relief last month after the Senate Finance Committee released its healthcare reform bill.

While the measure includes funding cuts, it would not be “as strident as the House bill,” said Susan Feeney, spokeswoman for the American Health Care Association.

The House legislation proposes  eventually phasing out a Medicare market-basket, or cost-of-living, update. The measure also includes a productivity adjustment, which would further erode the Medicare market basket.

By contrast, the Senate bill only includes the productivity adjustment, which takes into account providers' yearly efficiencies. Meanwhile, it contains other provisions that could significantly affect long-term care. These include the creation of a Medicare Commission that would be charged with setting Medicare rates.

It also calls for transparency requirements, such as the disclosure of ownership information and staffing data. The Nursing Home Compare Web site also would expand to offer additional data.

Other provisions in the legislation include the establishment of the Office of Coordination for Dual Eligible Beneficiaries. The office  would be responsible for leading efforts to align Medicare and Medicaid funding.

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