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AHCA launches campaign for permanent SGR fix

January 13, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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The American Health Care Association (AHCA) has launched a campaign to educate lawmakers on the value of skilled nursing providers in advance of discussions related to the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR).

The most recent “doc fix,” passed in March 2014, expires March 31, noted Greg Crist, senior vice president of public affairs for AHCA. Talk on Capitol Hill suggests that Congress may consider a temporary patch to the SGR that would last anywhere from nine to 22 months—the latter to enable a new federal administration to devise a permanent solution. AHCA and others favor a permanent solution now.

Congress has made 17 patches to the physician payment formula since enacting it in 1997. Long-term care facilities often see reductions in reimbursements due to offset costs associated with these temporary fixes.

AHCA’s “Positively Skilled” campaign will use data to tell Congress: “Instead of across-the-board cuts, let us help you find alternative policy initiatives that aren’t so draconian” and stress quality outcomes, Crist told Long-Term Living. AHCA’s ultimate goal has many supporters in the legislature, he said, adding that he expects the campaign to be received positively because of AHCA’s working relationships with members of Congress and their staffs. “But the devil is in how to pay for it,” he added.

The campaign will include print, radio, television and website advertising (as well as ads in a Washington, D.C., subway station), social media and meetings with members of Congress and their staffs. AHCA’s 12,000-plus members will be speaking with the lawmakers closer to home, too, Crist said.

The first phase rolled out this week to “remind lawmakers what we do day in, day out” and highlight lower-cost settings of care, where savings can be realized, Crist said. The messages, he added, include that “patients and residents go home, patient satisfaction is high and readmissions are low.” Future phases of the campaign will address specific policy proposals being considered by Congress or AHCA, Crist said.

The campaign will run at least until March 31—longer if needed, he said.

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