Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Post-Super Committee: Turning to 2012

On Monday evening, the Congressional super committee tasked to recommend $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction announced that it failed to come to bipartisan agreement. This announcement was made after months of apparent struggle by the 12-person committee to agree on where to trim funds over the next ten years.

The end of the super committee debates, however, signals the new beginning of a familiar fight over Medicare spending.  As always, the Association is working diligently to promote responsible spending of Medicare funds and proactively shrink costs.  AHCA has already designed and promoted a proposal to reduce Medicare costs for post-acute care and encourage skilled nursing facilities to reduce $5 billion worth of hospital readmissions over 10 years.

As proposals from various groups regarding where the nation will trim its budget begin to surface, Congress must first focus its upcoming December agenda on how to save billions of dollars to offset the upcoming expiration of a legislative fix that has prevented annual cuts in payments to doctors.

Medicare is considered a very likely source for this pricey cut—a cut that comes on top of the 2% slash in the automatic trigger resulting from the inability of the super committee to develop an alternative plan to trim budgets.

More cuts to the long term care profession via Medicare mean that access to quality health care is once again being threatened.  As the final days of 2011 wind down, AHCA is gearing up to protect the funds necessary to keep high quality, person-centered care available to families and loved ones across the nation in 2012 and beyond.

For up-to-the-minute information on AHCA’s efforts on protecting Medicare and defending the nation’s elderly and disabled individuals, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and the web.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The New Old?

A new Census report on older Americans is getting a lot of media attention lately.  Americans are living much longer than before, with the oldest segment (85 and above), growing the fastest.

Not surprisingly, nursing homes play a critical role in caring for this new population. Among the report’s findings:
  • A majority of those over 90 years are women living in a nursing home.
  • About 11.2 percent of those ages 85-89 live in a nursing home. This rises to 19.8 percent for those ages 90-94 and 31 percent for those ages 95-99.
  • The majority of individuals in the “oldest old” have some type of disability, thus requiring care in a nursing home.
  • Those in the oldest segment have insurance through Medicare, Medicaid or a combination of both.
With our elderly population growing, the need for quality long term care will grow as well. With so much focus on reducing the federal deficit, it’s important for our policymakers to look for reasonable solutions that don’t jeopardize the care that our nation’s seniors rely on. AHCA/NCAL will continue to support a more methodical, long-term solution to our nation’s rising health care costs and growing deficit.

You can read the full Census report here, and check out NPR’s blog post for a quick summary.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Not-for-Profit Difference

When it comes to caring for the elderly and people with disabilities, not-for-profits (NFPs) have a common mission. Their approach includes a passion for community involvement, a focus on person centered care and a goal to meet the personal, spiritual, and healthcare needs of individuals living in their communities.That was the message that Gary Kelso, president of Mission Health Services of Salt Lake City, Utah, brought to Washington, D.C. during a recent visit.
The NFP Council meets in Washington, D.C.

Kelso was in town for a regular meeting of the AHCA NFP Council, which includes representation from large and small NFP long term care providers nationwide.  While the Council discussed the current political climate and potential activity of the Supercommittee, they also discussed ways to enhance AHCA/NCAL member services to NFP providers. 

Some highlights of the Council’s discussion include:

• Creating a NFP-specific strategic plan for the Association.
• Strengthening representation of senior housing and home health/hospice providers.
• Cultivating NFP leaders in the long term care profession.
• Collaborating with other organizations dedicated to quality long term care services.

Over 25 percent of AHCA/NCAL’s membership, or 2,800 nursing and assisted living facilities, as well as developmental disabilities services providers, is made up of NFPs. As Kelso points out, this number continues to grow and diversify, and AHCA has helped foster this group with a NFP-specific publication, a NFP track at the Annual Convention, and much more. 

To find out what else the Council is up to, check out Gary’s recent interview with Provider magazine’s Meg LaPorte. And be sure to visit the new NFP webpage for more information.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Campaign Watch: Romney's Healthcare Plan vs. Paul Ryan's

Former Gov. Mitt Romney and Chairman Paul Ryan, AP Photo
Politico reports that at a policy speech on Friday at the Americans for Prosperity summit, former Gov. Mitt Romney identified possible ways to address the rising cost of Medicare and supported some of the policies suggested by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Romney supports the creation of a “premium support” program to help Medicare beneficiaries buy a similar, private insurance plan. The only difference between Romney’s proposal and Ryan’s is that Romney wants to keep Medicare as an option for seniors, while Ryan would have eliminated the program for future seniors.