Reduction in Medicare Nursing Home Reimbursements May Have ‘Significant’ Impact on Patient Care, Study Finds
A scheduled 17% reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates for nursing homes could have a "significant" impact on the quality of care at those facilities, according to a new study released yesterday by the American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (Wheeler, Gannett News Service/Asbury Park Press, 3/24). The study, a state-by-state analysis conducted by the health policy research company Muse & Associates, ranked states based on which would face the "steepest" loss of Medicare nursing home funds and the "greatest possibility of dislocation and quality care and access problems" as a result of the scheduled reduction, mandated under the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and set to take effect on Oct. 1. The study found that Medicare reimbursements for nursing homes in California, which would see the most serious loss, would decrease from $418.75 per patient per day in fiscal year 2002 to $347.99 per patient per day in FY 2003, a loss of $70.77 per patient per day. Nursing homes in New York, which ranked second, would lose $52.80 per patient per day as a result of the scheduled reduction, and facilities in third-ranking Florida would lose $62.83 per patient per day. Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts and New Jersey ranked fourth through 10th, respectively, according to the study (AHCA release, 3/25). The scheduled reduction is caused by the expiration of legislation that Congress passed in 1999 and 2000 to temporarily increase Medicare reimbursement rates for nursing homes. Lawmakers passed that legislation to restore reductions in Medicare nursing home reimbursements mandated by the BBA (Lipman, Palm Beach Post, 2/25).
AHCA President and CEO Charles Roadman said that the rate reduction would threaten the "quality and availability of patient care" and would result in a "significant loss of jobs in a health care sector where there is a correlation between numbers of staff and quality of care." He added, "The bottom line is that a 17% cut to Medicare on Oct. 1 may very well initiate a cascade of falling dominos that will negatively impact the lives, well-being and care of million of vulnerable senior citizens across our nation" (AHCA release, 3/25). Some lawmakers, including many who voted to pass the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, also have expressed concern that the reduction in Medicare nursing home reimbursements has "gone too far" (Gannett News Service/Asbury Park Press, 3/24). However, the Bush administration has not recommended a delay in the scheduled rate reduction (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 3/15). The study and additional information are available online.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.