Congressional Republicans want to reduce the Medicaid provider tax threshold as a way to pay for keeping student loan interest rates down, but doing so will undermine senior care, a trade group said in a letter to House and Senate GOP leaders.
Cutting the provider tax threshold from 6% to 5.5% would cause a “ripple effect” in every state where nursing care centers operate, wrote Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of nursing home trade group the American Health Care Association (AHCA).
Medicaid pays for the stays of about 63% of nursing home residents, but it doesn’t reimburse the facilities for the full cost of care. In 2011, nursing homes lost nearly $6.3 billion in costs incurred by nursing home residents on the Medicaid program that weren’t fully paid for.
“This insufficient reimbursement for skilled nursing centers demonstrably threatens access to care for the more than 60 million people—largely children, the elderly and the disabled—who rely on Medicaid for health care coverage,” Parkinson said.
The proposal to reduce provider assessments will add an “additional strain to a sector that has already be rattled with rounds of government reductions,” he continued, along with threatening the industry’s ability to care for the nation’s vulnerable seniors.
It’s true that Congress needs to find ways to reduce federal spending while still funding a wide variety of programs, the trade group acknowledged. But limiting states’ ability to use provider assessments to support Medicaid programs won’t help make the Medicaid program more efficient, and it won’t make healthcare cost less.
“We must tackle the looming federal budget challenges in a careful and deliberate manner—one that does not undermine the core values to care for our nation’s seniors, including those who require long-term care,” Parkinson concluded.
Fellow trade group the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care agreed, saying the GOP is wrong to target nursing home funding for senior care.
“Off-the-cuff proposals that put the well-being of the nation’s most vulnerable seniors in jeopardy warrant strong opposition on both principle and policy grounds,” said Alan Rosenbloom, president of the Alliance. “At a time when patients and taxpayers would benefit from increased utilization and investment in SNFs, the repeated and disproportionate cuts inflicted on the sector are illogical and wrong.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace