Monday, November 8, 2010

Reading the Post Election Tea Leaves

November 8, 2010

Today AHCA held a small reporter breakfast on the November 2nd election results, what they mean for the long term and post-acute care profession, and the GOP reform repeal recommendations. Our industry was short-shrifted in terms of recognition and true change to the way we are funded and regulated. In spite of all the dissatisfaction, however, the new Congress presents an opportunity for us to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to ensure those who came to the polls have their voices heard. 

One issue that had seniors voting in droves was their disapproval over health care reform. It’s fair to say the law missed the mark on several key items important to our sector. Some worth considering by the 112th Congress include:

•    Reimbursement Cuts: The reality is simple. Quality care delivery is tied to staffing. Staffing is the bulk of the costs to facilities. When reimbursements are cut, staff is forced to do more with less.

•    1099 Reporting Repeal: Although full repeal comes with a $17 billion price tag, strong bipartisan support from many members of Congress and the substantial involvement of multiple coalitions suggests that the prospects for a 1099 repeal are favorable.

•    Health Information Technology: The new law did not contain any HIT funding for our profession. We, along with those we serve, cannot afford to fall behind in this critical area.

•    Required Disclosure of Ownership and Additional Disclosable Parties Information: The law requires disclosure of ownership from parties with as little as 5% of property. The burden this law puts on facilities that are busy with caring for the elderly population is unreasonable and unfair. 

If we can say one thing about our profession, it’s that we have worked with both sides on the issues that matter most. In many respects, our sector lines up well with Republicans, and this will be an asset during the 112th Congress. The majority of long term and post-acute care providers are private sector deliverers of high quality health care. Not only are we efficient and effective in our care delivery, but we perform the same amount of treatment that a hospital does, for much less. Ours is a sector that is growing and creating jobs, which is a top priority of this Congress. Last year alone, the long term and post-acute care industry created about 50,000 jobs nationwide.

In terms of the Lame Duck session, our agenda is small but ambitious. We will continue to tackle the RUG IV issue and technical changes in Medicare Part B therapy services. As we search for legislative vehicles to house this legislation we will also work on the therapy caps issue and recommend a one year exemption from capping reimbursements. Moving forward, we recognize that the FMAP extension will be a tough sell next year. However, we will  advocate for this important provision and educate the new congressional leadership on other issues that matter most to our sector.

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