MEDICARE II: Fiscal Increase Benefits Long Term Care
Aimed at increasing funds for seriously ill seniors, a new Medicare proposal would increase nursing home payments by 5.8%, HCFA officials said. The hike, beginning Oct. 1, would translate into an estimated $15.5 billion for nursing homes in FY 2001, a jump of $900 million from this year's funding allocation. Under the new rates, Medicare would pay more than $700 each day for seniors requiring the most expensive care -- more than five times the rate paid for patients not in need of intensive care. "These changes, based on extensive research of real world experiences, will ensure that Medicare pays nursing homes fairly and appropriately for caring for those beneficiaries with complex medical needs," HCFA Administrator Nancy-Ann DeParle said. But before it can be enacted, the proposal must undergo a 60-day comment period. According to government officials, the cuts in Medicare funding have led to a "shortfall in money to cover care of the most expensive patients," leaving many seniors without the care they need. HCFA's actions are an attempt to "refine the payment system and direct more money toward caring for acutely ill seniors" (Gullo, AP/Orange County Register, 4/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.