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 ‘Bipartisanship’ Urged In Finding Fix For Post-Acute Care Payments

​Long term care advocates on Friday urged both the nation’s major parties to work together on a permanent fix for post-acute Medicare payments.

“There’s only one way to solve the impending Medicare crisis—through bipartisanship,” American Health Care Association President and Chief Executive Officer Gov. Mark Parkinson said in a statement. “All other options introduce too much politics, too much potential harm to the seniors we care for.”

The House Ways & Means subcommittee on health opened hearings Friday on proposals to save money on Medicare’s post-acute care payments. President Obama has offered up a mélange of proposals—including reducing providers’ market basket, moving to a site-neutral payment system, changing the statuses of inpatient rehabilitation facilities, creating a new program to cut readmissions, and coming up with bundled payments—that he says will save $94 billion over the next 10 years.

But congressional Republicans aren’t sure the proposals are enough. They also remain implacable foes of the president’s health care act.

“The new Medicare Trustees report confirms this important program remains in deep financial trouble, with only 13 years left of solvency in the main trust fund,” subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in announcing Friday’s hearing.
Democrats see things differently.

“The Affordable Care Act put us on a path toward reforming post-acute care, and many promising ideas are being developed and tested,” subcommittee ranking member Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said. “As the Medicare Trustees’ Report illustrates, the Medicare program is stable and strong; however, we should always look for ways to continue to strengthen it and improve the quality of care for its beneficiaries.”

Providers are worried that the only compromise the two parties will find will be to slash payments to long term care.

“The long term and post-acute care profession is encouraged by the committee’s willingness to consider proposals that do more than simply cut payments to health care providers,” Parkinson said. “Skilled nursing centers are already reeling from deep cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, as reflected in our razor-thin operating margins.”

Testifying Friday were Jonathan Blum, a deputy administrator and director at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as well as Mark Miller, the executive director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. Their written testimony can be found here.

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