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AQNHC: President Obama's FY 2014 Budget Blueprint Significantly Threatens SNF Patient Care, Workforce Stability

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  While noting passage of post acute payment reforms are the ultimate answer to protecting elderly, vulnerable patients while also achieving Medicare cost savings, the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) today expressed "deep alarm" about the broad parameters of the Obama Administration's proposed FY 2014 budget. The inclusion of still more Medicare cuts on top of $65.6 billion, ten year reductions already imposed over the last four years will threaten quality skilled nursing facility (SNF) care for some of the nation's most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries, and further undermine workforce stability, the Alliance warned.

"While we will continue to analyze the President's budget proposal and will comment further as warranted, our initial reaction is one of deep alarm about its broad parameters and the inclusion of even more substantial Medicare cuts on top of $65.6 billion, ten year reductions already slated for the U.S. SNF sector," stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of AQNHC. "There is no doubt quality patient care would be threatened, workforce stability further destabilized, and the ongoing ability to sustain successful rehabilitative care outcomes jeopardized," he continued.  

Moving forward, Rosenbloom said, "Post-acute payment reform proposals like those we are advancing are the ultimate answer to helping patients, provider and taxpayer alike. Now is the time for new policy ideas – not just more SNF Medicare cuts. We will continue our constructive outreach as Congress reviews the President's budget, and develops Medicare reform legislation."

In regard to specific cuts, the Alliance leader expressed continued opposition to further curtailing SNFs' ability to write off so-called "Medicare bad debt" -- and said the sector's predicament in this context is significantly different from that of other health sectors: "The Administration's bad debt proposal is unfair and unsustainable as 85 percent of SNF bad debt is unrecoverable because it stems from Medicaid's inability, or unwillingness, to pay Medicare co-payments for dual eligible patients. Additionally, the cutbacks in bad debt payments imposed in 2012 hit SNFs six times as hard as those to hospitals due to SNFs' unique reliance on Medicare and Medicaid for the vast majority of their revenues." 

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