Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Members of Congress Learn Value of Skilled Nursing Therapy

Drew Thies

AHCA/NCAL members have been hard at work this year showing their Representatives in Congress the value of therapy services in a skilled nursing setting. Several Members of Congress from across the country visited AHCA skilled nursing buildings in order to learn specifically how therapy services are given in a SNF setting.

The Members of Congress, including Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL), Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), listened to patients as they explained their stories, many of which involved a return to their communities and families within a month of starting therapy. Click here for a video of the tours and conversations. 

Skilled nursing centers provide an efficient rehabilitation environment, with a combination of physical, occupational, and speech/language therapy, to people who have lost normal functionality due to an injury, a stroke, surgery, and even a progressive disease such as arthritis. These cost-e­ffective services help avoid costly hospital and post-acute admissions and readmissions, and often facilitate the return to community-based living for beneficiaries.

Existing Medicare payment policies, however, focus on phases of a patient’s illness defined by a specific service site, rather than on the characteristics or care needs of the Medicare beneficiary. This system fails to encourage collaboration and coordination across multiple sites of care and provides few incentives that reward efficient care delivery.

AHCA supports a payment system for post-acute care focusing on patients rather than their setting of care. Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) found that outcomes between SNFs and other similar care settings were basically the same for conditions usually requiring rehabilitative service, such as strokes or hip fractures. Increasing utilization of SNF rehabilitative services by grouping patients by clinical condition and severity of injury would provide high-quality care in a setting that could save billions in Medicare spending over the next decade.

For more information about skilled nursing rehabilitative service or if you are interested in having a Member of Congress tour your own skilled nursing or assisted living center, please contact Drew Thies at dthies@ahca.org.

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