Florida’s Advocate for Long Term Care
Providers and the Elders They Serve

Florida seniors to lose $331.8 million in Medicare benefits for nursing home care

Funding cut could impact access to care, health care jobs 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2011
Contact: Kristen Knapp, APR
(850) 701-3530 or kknapp@fhca.org

TALLAHASSEE, FL - As nursing homes in Florida brace for another round of funding cuts set to take effect tomorrow, October 1, the Florida Health Care Association today stated that further cuts made to Medicare- or Medicaid-funded nursing home care will severely undercut facility staffing efforts and put high quality care for seniors at risk.

Beginning October 1, nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities - SNF) in Florida will see an 11.4% reduction ($331.8 million) to Medicare funding through a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule on the SNF prospective payment system. These reductions are in addition to the 6.5% reduction ($187.5 million) in place for Medicaid-funded nursing home care that was passed by the state Legislature earlier this year.

"There comes a point in any sector when additional cuts are simply unsustainable. Long term care providers are at that tipping point, and we need our policymakers to understand the impact that cuts in funding have on our state’s seniors as these debt ceiling negotiations continue," said Emmett Reed, Executive Director of Florida Health Care Association, the state's first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the frail elders they serve.

Pursuant to the debt ceiling legislation President Obama signed into law in August, Congress’ “super committee” has been charged with identifying a further $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. If the 12-member panel fails to reach agreement, automatic across-the-board spending cuts will be triggered upwards of $1.2 trillion. While Medicaid and Social Security are exempt from the triggers, Medicare is not. The mandatory cuts would include a two percent reduction in payments to Medicare providers beginning in 2013.

"These cuts don’t occur in a vacuum," said Reed. "Facilities are already struggling from the state’s Medicaid cuts. Given the connection between Medicaid and Medicare funding for nursing home care, another round of deep reductions will jeopardize care and access for seniors, along with the jobs of caregivers committed to delivering that high quality care."

For a typical nursing home, 70% of its costs are staff-related, with 40% of those costs dedicated to direct-care workers.  “Florida’s long term care facilities directly employ more than 178,000 health care workers,” said Reed. “With both federal and state officials pushing policies to promote job creation, more proposed cuts put those jobs at risk. It’s simply counterproductive.”

About the Florida Health Care Association
The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is a federation which serves nearly 1,000 members and represents over 500 long term care facilities that provide skilled nursing, post-acute and sub-acute care, short-term rehab, assisted living and other services to the frail elderly and individuals with disabilities in Florida. The mission of FHCA is to advance the quality of services, image, professional development and financial stability of its members. As Florida's first and largest advocacy organization for long term care providers and the elderly they serve, the Association has worked diligently since 1954 to assist its members with continuously improving quality of care and quality of life for the state’s growing elder care population. For more information about the Florida Health Care Association, visit www.fhca.org.