health care

Nursing homes attack Medicare changes

Posted 6/1/09

PROVIDENCE – The association that represents Rhode Island’s nursing homes is lashing out at a proposal by the Obama administration to reduce the amount of money they receive from the federal Medicare program.

In February, President Barack Obama told Congress his administration would “root out the waste, fraud and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier.” The administration is seeking savings across the federal budget to help pay for its hallmark initiatives, most notably health care reform.

The White House’s draft budget for the 2010 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, calls for a $1.05 billion reduction in Medicare spending on nursing homes, according to the American Health Care Association, a trade group.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services argues most of the cuts will be offset by an increase in reimbursements elsewhere, and also says providers received a windfall after a 2006 adjustment led to higher-than-forecast payments, according to McKnight’s, a trade publication.

The Rhode Island Health Care Association, which represents nursing and rehabilitation facilities in the state, said today the proposed cuts would drain more than $9 million from the Rhode Island economy, with $6.19 million less in business activity and $3.18 million less in personal income due to the loss of 94 jobs.

“If put into effect, the Medicare cutback will not only slow the creation of new jobs in one of the few sectors showing job growth in Rhode Island, it also would make it much harder for skilled nursing facilities to deliver the kind of long-term reductions in costs that are so crucial to effective health care reform,” Virginia Burke, the association’s president, said in a statement.

The White House also wants to switch to a system of “bundled” payments, in which hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities would receive a lump sum to cover all treatment costs, regardless of how many times a patient is readmitted.

Burke said nursing facilities save Medicare money by providing short-term care to patients recuperating after a hospital visit, but the cuts would end that. “This is bad policy, pure and simple – and needs to be overturned,” she said.

The association also noted that the long-term care industry is already dealing with a reduction in Rhode Island’s Medicaid program, which the group said covers two-thirds of nursing home population.

“If these cuts happen in tandem, it will have a real and painful effect on the elders who live in nursing homes, as well as those who care for them,” Burke said.

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Something else to think about in Medicare Insurance Plans; The Medicare Advantage haters may get there way at the expense of seniors. Changes are coming to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans in 2010 and it may be confusing for Medicare beneficiaries in 2010. Medicare Beneficiaries should find a trusted Advisor that they can turn to as these changes come around. Find someone who represents many plans and can provide objective advice, not just the salesmen representing one or two plans. I would suggest someone who represents at least 5 separate insurance companies not just 5 different plans from one provider.

Regarding the imminent change to Medicare insurance plans; these are already in place and outside any of the current health care debate. First, it is widely expected that Medicare Advantage premiums (alone or in combination with benefits reductions i.e. higher co-pays) will increase approximately $40-$70 in Jan of 2010.

Second, in June of 2010 Medicare Supplement (Medigap) will see there first significant changes in quite some time. New Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans N and Medigap Plan M will be available with premiums from 15-30% lower than some of the most popular Medicare Supplement plans offered today, a welcome change to the constantly increasing health care premium environment.

For more info see article: Changes Coming to Medicare Supplement in 2010

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Report this

When searching for a nursing home beware Sun Healthcare's facilities where my mother was harmed by known broken equipment they refused to repair while under a California state injunction. Even the Dept of Justice turned a blind eye. My mother suffered a horrific death, when after a stroke they caused she could not swallow for the remainder of her life, nine more months. She caught MRSA from the facility in the end and it compromised her system, causing a steady decline that lasted months. Then they cheated me out of compensation. I brought claims against my attorney Daniel Leipold for malpractice for neglecting to ask for wrongful death, elder abuse and pain & suffering, then he died 2 weeks later. I eventually won that malpractice case. SUN cheated California taxpayers out of millions of dollars in fines from the injunction, (Claude Vanderwold, Asst. Attorney General, said this facility was not subject to the $2.5 Million fines the DOJ fined SUN in Sept 2005) -SUN HEALTHCARE GROUP INC's board of directors recently refused to discuss with me yet I provided medical records that confirm this manslaughter by their medical director, Dr L Scott Stoney who quit over the lack of response from management, SUN Healthcare CEO Rick Matros and board member Dr Chauncey Hunker

Friday, June 19, 2009 | Report this
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