Senate Finance Committee bill preserves market-basket update for nursing homes

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

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday released its long-awaited version of healthcare reform. This $856 billion, 10-year version doesn't contain some of the harmful provisions many in the long-term care community had feared.

Most notably, a reduction in the market-basket update is absent from the bill. Last week, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, released a rough draft of sorts that would have reduced the market-basket update for nursing home providers. Providers were also pleased to see included in the new proposal an extension on the Medicare Part B therapy caps exceptions process through Dec. 31, 2011.

Meanwhile, the proposal also contains a number of measures long championed by Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI). The Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act, which would require nursing homes to disclose more ownership information, appears in Baucus' bill. Likewise, the Retooling the Healthcare Workforce for an Aging America Act, which would establish programs to help train caregivers for the elderly and reduce the healthcare worker shortage, also found its way into the newly proposed plan. The Finance Committee plans to vote on the bill next week. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) may be the only Republican on the committee to support the bill. Besides Baucus and Snowe, other major collaborators on the legislation are Kent Conrad (D-ND), Charles Grassley (D-IA), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).