More legislators ask Leavitt to keep nursing home payments in budget

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Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt received yet another letter from legislators asking him to hold off on slashing Medicare payments to nursing homes in the FY 2006 federal budget.

Following the lead of a coalition of House members and some governors last month, a bipartisan group of senators sent Leavitt a letter. They wrote "to express our views that if the administration pursues regulatory action to cut critical Medicare funding from skilled nursing facilities, more than 1.6 million frail elderly and disabled Americans will be in jeopardy of losing access to thee vital services."

The senators suggested savings through reform in the Medicaid program. "Over the years, skilled nursing facilities have come to rely on Medicare to make up for chronic under funding by Medicaid," the letter said.