Stimulus package clears House, nursing home advocates urge Congress to protect providers

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Make therapy caps lower, streamline review process, MedPAC chairman urges House committee
Make therapy caps lower, streamline review process, MedPAC chairman urges House committee
In a 244-188 vote along party lines Wednesday night, the House approved a $819 billion stimulus package, and sent it to the Senate for further review. Long-term care advocates, meanwhile, are saying there is still work to be done on the bill to protect access to quality nursing home care.

The new stimulus package contains $87 billion in additional Medicaid funding for states. It also has provisions that rescind certain Medicaid eligibility requirements that many states have implemented over the last several months as a way to counter crushing budget deficits. But nursing home organizations are concerned that there is no language in the House legislation that prevents states from slashing payments to healthcare providers and physicians. In reaction, the American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care issued a statement urging the Senate to protect providers' payments.

"As a matter of sound, logical policy, the federal government ought not provide funds to ostensibly protect vulnerable populations while allowing states to divert Medicaid funds to projects unrelated to providing health care to our neediest seniors," Alliance President Alan Rosenbloom said.

In related legal news, President Obama Thursday signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps to further close the gap in wages between men and women. It allows more time to take pay-discrimination cases to court.