Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Congressional Briefing a Key Time to Advocate on Medicaid

Drew Thies

The upcoming 2016 AHCA/NCAL Congressional Briefing is a critical time for skilled nursing and assisted living providers to advocate for the preservation of Medicaid in front of Members of Congress and their staff.

One House committee has already voted this year to cut Medicaid by reducing the provider assessment rate by half a percent in some states. This provision, if passed, represents over $8 billion cut from the Medicaid program nation-wide.

The bill, H.R. 4725, passed out of the Energy and Commerce committee in March, though has not made its way to consideration on the House floor.

Members of Congress will be looking for ways to save the government money as current appropriations expire at the end of September. Additionally, the November election sets up a so-called “lame duck” Congress, which can be legislatively unpredictable.

Coming to Washington and sharing with Members of Congress the value of Medicaid and the care it funds is one of the best ways to ensure the continued preservation of this safety net for millions of Americans.

Medicaid is reimburses only 90 cents for every dollar of care provided in skilled nursing facilities. More cuts are not sustainable given the already-underfunded nature of the program.

For assisted living providers, nearly half of communities are Medicaid-certified and taking part in their state’s Medicaid waiver program to provide home and community-based services (HCBS) to vulnerable seniors. A final rule issued by CMS in 2014 defines HCBS under the waiver program and will be implemented in 2019. We must ensure that assisted living continues to be included and considered an HCBS, so that Medicaid recipients can continue to access these services and remain in their assisted living homes.

AHCA/NCAL urges all members to make the trip to D.C. on May 23-24 to hear from political thought leaders and impress upon Members of Congress the importance of continued funding for Medicaid.

Registration is open until April 22. Spillover space is open but is filling up fast, so quick registration is highly encouraged.

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