Thursday, April 14, 2011

And They're Off!

President Obama gave his speech on the administration’s new fiscal policies yesterday, following the Republican’s proposed FY 2012 budget announcement last week – marking the beginning of what is sure to be a tumultuous debate.
The president’s plan aims to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years or less; find a combination of spending cuts and tax reforms; eliminate the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans; and form a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional team to agree on a legislative framework for comprehensive deficit reduction.
AHCA/NCAL was especially encouraged to hear the president mention “nursing homes” twice in his speech to America, given the enormous task nursing and assisted living facilities face in providing care to our nation’s frail and elderly:
“And so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, those with disabilities.”


“It’s a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit. Who are these 50 million Americans? Many are somebody’s grandparents -- may be one of yours -- who wouldn’t be able to afford nursing home care without Medicaid.”
Since we gave you a briefing of how the Republican’s budget related to the long term care profession, we thought we’d give the president the same courtesy. Here are some quick highlights:
  • Strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) Seeks to “bend the long-term cost curve” by setting a target for Medicare cost growth per beneficiary to “GDP per capita plus 0.5%” starting in 2018 by bolstering IPAB. The intent is for IPAB to serve as the last line of defense though additional authority, and to improve quality of care and cost reductions without placing additional financial burdens on seniors.
  • Increase Scrutiny of Providers using Higher-risk Banking Arrangements to receive Medicare Payment To prevent fraud and abuse, providers would have to report the use of "sweep accounts" (accounts that automatically transfer funds to separate accounts) for receipt of Medicare payments, so that those accounts could be targeted for enhanced scrutiny.
  • Making Medicaid More Flexible, Efficient, and Accountable The framework uses the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act as a foundation and seeks to save no less than $100 billion over 10 years, without employing block grants, eliminating the Federal-state partnership, or “reducing health care coverage for seniors in nursing homes, the most economically vulnerable and people with disabilities.” Further goals include better quality of care, additional fraud and abuse protections, as well as enhanced efficiency and accountability measures.
  • Provider Taxes The framework would “clamp down on states’ use of provider taxes to lower their own spending while not providing additional health services through Medicaid”.
As is the case with the President’s FY 2012 Budget, this framework only serves as a recommendation to Congress. Although the House and Senate are certain to consider the President’s recommendations, neither chamber is required to include any of the framework concepts in legislation.
Find out more about President Obama’s fiscal framework through his fact sheet.

1 comment:

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