Letter: Nursing Home Trade Association CEO Responds To Medicaid Opt Out Proposal

Nov 17, 2010

To The Editor:

The 11/12 New York Times news article produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, "Battle Lines Drawn Over Medicaid in Texas" reflects the post-election reality faced by vulnerable populations and the providers who care for them, on a variety of significant levels. But while the debate is now clearly underway in terms of how state and federal lawmakers will actively seek to significantly alter federal health care reform, we must avoid any type of hatchet approach that places the burden on the backs of our frail and elderly.

Withdrawing from Medicaid in the manner reported would have a tremendously negative ripple effect throughout state economies in general, and to elderly Medicaid beneficiaries in particular. As local nursing facilities are a mainstay of local economies – especially in rural areas – some would inevitably be forced to close. Access to quality care would be decimated, facility job losses would be rampant, and already low state Medicaid rates could not possibly support the ongoing care needs of a rapidly aging population.

This is not to say cost savings are not needed. They are. Facilities in Texas and throughout America have invested heavily in recent years to increase capabilities to admit, treat and return home growing numbers of patients requiring intensive rehabilitative care. This is a clear benefit to both seniors as well as taxpayers. A greater focus in state capitols and in Washington on helping facilities improve their capacity to return patients home more quickly -- thereby boosting cost-efficiency – is a more realistic, forward-thinking and workable approach compared to simply opting out of Medicaid.

Bruce Yarwood
President and CEO
American Health Care Association