The Houseâ€™s CHAMP is a Chump When it Comes to Medicare CutsHome » News » Point of View » 2007 Archive » The Houseâ€™s CHAMP is a Chump When it Comes to Medicare Cuts
Arthur Y. Webb
President and Chief Executive Officer
The House’s CHAMP is a Chump When it Comes to Medicare Cuts
When Congress returns this month, it will face demands to make the House’s CHAMP not turn out to be a chump.
The House and Senate have passed different versions of legislation to reauthorize and expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (called ESS-chip). Make no mistake that there are many good and important features of this legislation that desperately need to be enacted, but the House’s version of SCHIP contains devastating Medicare cuts for home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities. The very care providers that older adults and their families turn to when they need help.
Leave it to the House to create a situation where they are taking money that goes for the care of frail and elderly adults and allocating it to help for children’s health care. In essence, what the House said is that the needs of seniors aren’t that important, so we’ll use some of that money for children’s health care issues.
The supporters in the House of this folly are legion. They range from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to our own good friend, Representative Charles Rangel, who are normally the most reliable members of the House dedicated to doing the right thing. In this case, they and others who support the Medicare cuts are just plain wrong.
The House calls its version of SCHIP the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act, or CHAMP.
CHAMP’s cuts to home care and nursing home providers are not small potatoes. Over the five years of this legislation, they would lose what some estimate to be nearly $3 billion in reimbursements.
The House sponsors and supporters of CHAMP want to freeze what home care and nursing homes get each year for the inflation-driven cost increases they face for the items and services they provide. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) projects that for 2008 that would be 2.9 percent for home care and 3.3 percent for residential skilled nursing care. Don’t be mislead when they use the polite term “freeze.” And don’t buy any rhetoric from the supporters that a freeze is not a cut. A freeze is a cut. If this legislation survives, it will cut the funding nursing homes and home care would otherwise get over the next five years. And significantly.
The House wants to cut the funding for some of the most important services that families rely on to care for their elder relatives. Why is the House asking us to make such a decision – choose between funds for senior care or for child health services? Actually, it’s worse than that, they didn’t ask us, they just did it. Why would they make such a decision – take from the old and to give to the young? Not even a pretense of Robin Hood’s taking from the rich to give to the poor. More like a “Robbing Hood.”
Those who would be especially hard hit by this are not-for-profit nursing homes, like our own community’s Village Nursing Home, and home health agencies. Non-profit nursing homes, for example, spend substantially more on nursing staff than for-profits and end each year with little or no funds left in the coffers, if not a deficit.
Is this what all of us are to expect in the coming years, as the older population swells as a result of the aging of the Baby Boomers? When money is needed for something, oh, let’s just take some from the old folks, they won’t notice.
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- 2007 Archive
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- The Houseâ€™s CHAMP is a Chump When it Comes to Medicare Cuts