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Reimbursement relief pressure is on--but does Congress care? (News Notes).

If they haven't seen relief already, nursing home providers waiting for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement improvement should take heart--industry advocates are prodding the recently convened 108th Congress for action.

In a letter to Senate and House leaders during last year's lame-duck session, members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, including Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry (a potential presidential candidate in 2004), made a last-minute pitch for Medicare/Medicaid relief. But, perhaps realizing that the 107th Congress was unlikely to act on the issue--not much else had been accomplished by the post-election session--they called for the financing dilemma to be addressed immediately by the incoming Congress.

Lawmakers at the state level are also pressuring their federal peers, with the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers pointing out in a November report that states are in the most challenging fiscal environment since World War II.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) is continuing to bear down on Congress, with AHCA's CEO and president, Charles Roadman II, MD, reminding lawmakers once again that funding problems hamper patients' ability to access quality care. AHCA was particularly active last year as it counted down literally day by day to the Medicare "cliff" deadline.

But all the professional associations, state governors, and providers put together might have trouble convincing time-strapped federal lawmakers to address Medicare/Medicaid financing-problems any time soon. Budget and economic uncertainties, further proposed tax cuts, international crises, ideological warfare, and perhaps even continuing leadership battles are sure to take up much of the 108th Congress's time. Medicare/Medicaid funding proposals could, at the very least, get lost in the debate over Medicare prescription drug coverage, conceivably a major issue in the forthcoming presidential campaign. As usual, providers may have to wait in line for seemingly more pressing issues to be worked out at the federal level.
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Title Annotation:Medicare/Medicaid
Author:Edwards, Douglas J.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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