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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Proposed cut could hurt rehab at nursing homes

December 4, 2007

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Lois Bushnell, left, works with occupational therapist Melanie Krumsick at Pioneer Ridge Assisted Living. Funding for Kansas nursing homes under Medicare Part A might be cut by $22 million over five years, which could hurt rehabilitation services.

Lois Bushnell, left, works with occupational therapist Melanie Krumsick at Pioneer Ridge Assisted Living. Funding for Kansas nursing homes under Medicare Part A might be cut by $22 million over five years, which could hurt rehabilitation services.

Medicare

Along with the brightly colored exercise balls and strength bands, Lawrence's Pioneer Ridge has golf clubs and a mini kitchen to help seniors regain the skills they need to transition from nursing home back to just plain home.

If a proposed $2.7 billion cut to Medicare goes through the U.S. Senate, it would be these rehabilitative services at nursing homes that would feel the pinch.

This week the Senate's finance committee is working on a Medicare package. Nursing home advocates worry that the soon-to-be bill could include a reduction in what Medicare pays nursing homes to rehabilitate seniors between stints at the hospital and returning to their homes or assisted living facilities.

The advocates are urging senators not to follow the lead of the U.S. House, which in August adopted the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act. While the bill supported expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, it also proposed a cut to Medicare Part A. That proposed reduction would take away $22 million from Kansas nursing homes over the next five years.

On Monday, the Coalition to Protect Senior Care - an organization made up of clinicians and caregiver groups - put on a news conference at Topeka's Lexington Park Nursing and Post Acute Care Facility. For nursing home advocates, it was a kind of preemptive strike in case senators decide to go through with the $2.7 billion cut.

Lisa Cantrell, with the National Association of Health Care Assistants, said the drop in Medicare payments would hamper the steps nursing homes have made toward boosting the care given at these facilities.

"The linkage between payment stability and quality improvement is unmistakable," she said. "Our goal is to make certain that the numbers and the balance sheet never take precedent over the well-being of real people."

One of the reasons the coalition came to Topeka was to put pressure on Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, who sits on the finance committee where the bill is housed.

Molly Mueller, Roberts' press secretary, said a mark-up of the Medicare package should come out of the finance committee by the end of the week. She also noted that Roberts was hoping to halt the potential cuts.

In Lawrence, Pioneer Ridge administrator Marie Vogel said if passed, the reductions in Medicare payments would hurt the nursing home's operations. On average, 12 of the facility's 60 beds go toward Medicare Part A patients.

With lower reimbursement levels, Vogel said they will have to look at cutting costs, such as supplies, or find other sources of revenue.

The reductions would specifically affect a new wing the nursing home is planning to build next year. The wing is geared toward those fresh out of hospitals with complex medical conditions.

"That reimbursement level is very important," Vogel said.

Comments

BigDog 6 years, 4 months ago

Politically it would have been wise to not hold the Topeka press conference at a very upscale nursing home.

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lily 6 years, 4 months ago

Let's just hope these people who are thinking about the cuts never have to take advantage of these kinds of services. What goes around comes around.

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