Local Groups React To Proposed Changes In Medicare And Medicaid

Local news coverage details concerns about Medicare and Medicaid spending reductions that could affect senior and nursing care.

The Providence Business News reports that the Obama administration has pledged to root out Medicare waste and called for a $1.05 billion reduction in Medicare spending on nursing homes in the White House’s draft budget for the 2010 fiscal year. The Rhode Island Health Care Association, which represents the state's nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, has said "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." The association also noted that the cuts would end savings created from Medicare money that provide short-term care to patients recuperating after a hospital visit and that the state has already suffered from a reduction in their Medicaid program, which covers two-thirds of the nursing home population (Nesi, 6/1).

Public radio station WHCQ in Wilmington, N.C., reported on how proposed Medicaid cuts could impact thousands of local residents who receive in-home care. The Association for Home and Hospice Care of North Carolina criticized the senate’s proposal that "carves $55-million out of Medicaid funding for personal care services." The group’s CEO Tim Rogers said each patient receiving Medicaid for in-home care costs the state $750 a month, far less than nursing home care, according to WHCQ.

Meanwhile, the powerful seniors group AARP is pushing lawmakers to improve long-term care as health care reform heats up, according to Channel 13 WOWK, a CBS affiliate television station in Charleston, W.V. "Millions of older Americans rely on Medicaid for the long-term services and supports they need, but the program’s bias toward institutional care prevents most from getting more affordable care where they want it: their own homes," the station reports. AARP has endorsed the Empowered at Home Act (S. 434), "which would provide incentives and greater opportunities for states to expand access to home and community based services." The group also supports the Retooling the Health Care Workforce for an Aging America Act (S. 245/H.R. 468), legislation that "would provide support, training and information to family caregivers, and improve the health and long-term care workforce to better meet the needs of the aging population" (6/1).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.