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AHCA finds providers commit to quality in 2011 despite threat of cuts

January 24, 2012
by Kevin Kolus
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For the second year in a row, the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) have released an assessment of the long-term and post-acute care industry, citing an increased commitment to quality care—along with a greater likelihood of future funding cuts.

“Our profession has made great strides, yet we are struggling to meet growing demand in the light of diminishing federal and state funding,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, in a statement.

“We have improved in quality,” he continued. “Many of our facilities are hiring doctors and reducing hospital readmissions. We have improved in delivering a variety of healthcare options for seniors. That significant progress could all be put at risk if policymakers continue to avoid serious discussions centering on how we are reimbursed.”

The association noted that a new AHCA/NCAL quality initiative will launch in early 2012, focusing on four major areas: rehospitalizations, anti-psychotic medication, improving staff stability and improving resident satisfaction. AHCA’s new department of Quality, led by Dr. David Gifford, MPH, “is focusing on the importance of quality for each and every member facility,” the association said.

The industry is focused on reducing hospital readmissions and improving patient and staff satisfaction, AHCA/NCAL said. However, realizing those goals with the ongoing threat of diminishing reimbursement “is increasingly difficult, shedding light on the need for stable, consistent funding,” it said.

AHCA/NCAL pointed out that in 2011 alone, Medicare payments to SNFs experienced an 11.1 percent reduction, coinciding with recent Congressional proposals that have suggested reducing Medicare bad debt coverage to SNFs from 100 percent to 55 percent by 2015.

A separate report referenced by AHCA/NCAL estimated that the national Medicaid shortfall for skilled nursing care in 2011 was $6.3 billion—or nearly $20 per patient, per day.

“AHCA/NCAL and our members will spend 2012 working directly with Congress, state lawmakers and other stakeholders to ensure that continued and stable funding—which is so very critical to providing the care our nation needs—is available for every provider,” the association said.

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