Nursing home group urges Senate action on Medicare payments

A coalition of nursing home caregivers is urging the Senate to repeal a delay to new Medicare payments for nursing homes during the lame-duck session. Stakeholders had sought the delays to two regulatory changes approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2009, but only one regulation was delayed at the time.

The House has already passed legislation addressing the problem, and on Tuesday the Coalition to Protect Senior Care announced a letter-writing campaign targeting the Senate. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee also support a swift resolution, the coalition said.

"Nursing homes throughout America are already experiencing significant economic turbulence as a result of this persistent, ongoing recession and the ability to hire, train and retain quality staff has been an enormous challenge – especially throughout rural America, where great distance between facilities makes matters still more challenging," coalition co-chair Lisa Cantrell said in a statement. "The frontline long term caregiver is the one who delivers the majority of care to our frail elderly. From the standpoint of protecting senior's access to quality nursing home care and helping to stabilize facility staffing, Congress needs to use this 'lame-duck' session to put in place the new payment system - which has no extra cost and is uniformly backed by all stakeholders."

Correction: This post was updated at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday to clarify that the nursing homes want the delay to be repealed.