Nursing homes across the country are bracing for a tidal wave of budget cuts as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services prepares to reduce skilled nursing facility Medicare payments by $3.87 billion nationwide starting this month, according to the American Health Care Association.
To sound the alarm, the Florida Health Care Association joined with two national organizations to launch the “Care Not Cuts” campaign and hammer home to lawmakers that these cuts not only will impact the quality of care in SNFs, but also put 178,000 jobs at risk in the state, according to the AHCA. During the initial rollout of the campaign — from Aug. 26 through Sept. 5 — Florida and seven other states ran a television advertisement that featured nurses who work in nursing homes.
The nurses explained how nursing homes already have absorbed deep budget cuts, and another round of cuts “simply goes too far.” The campaign is expected to continue for several months.
Florida is slated to face 11.4%, or $331.8 million in Medicare cuts starting this month — and this comes after $187.5 million in Medicaid reductions went into effect this summer in the state, said J. Emmett Reed, executive director of the FHCA.
To garner support this summer, the FHCA partnered with facilities such as the Floridean Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Miami to host televised petition signing events. Lavern Nembhard, RNC, BSN, director of nursing at Floridean, spoke at the event.
“The cuts will affect staffing, which would impact the quality of care we can provide at the bedside,” Nembhard said. “Many of these elderly have no family nearby, and we cannot simply walk into the room and deliver routine nursing care and walk out. As a caregiver, I feel compelled to take the time to interact with my patients and provide the extra personal touch that a family would normally give.”
Nembhard also is concerned funding cuts will make it difficult for facilities to meet federal regulations for nursing home care, which have become more stringent over time. “What I have seen over the years is that we are being asked to do more and provide higher quality care, and with the impending cuts, this would be impossible to sustain,” she said.
Nembhard hopes lawmakers will listen to the warning she and others are giving and decrease the planned cuts.
“We have to face the reality that many of us will be in nursing homes ourselves some time in the future, and unless Congress hears from those of us who are at the care level, the situation is looking pretty grim,” she said. “My hope is that Congress will listen to our voices and protect American seniors so we can continue to offer the quality of care they deserve and desperately need.”
To view the ad campaign and learn how to contact your lawmaker about this issue, visit Carenotcuts.org.