The federal government plans to cut $16 billion of funding out of Medicare for nursing home care over the next ten years. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on cutting $45 billion out of Medicare funding as part of their proposed health care “reform” legislation. The combined impact of these cuts with the shrinking dollars in every state to fund Medicaid budgets is the greatest threat to quality of care for our nation’s seniors in history.
Seniors rely on Medicare to fund short term rehabilitation services provided by nursing homes, and many rely on Medicaid to fund long term residency in a nursing home. The amount of money these programs pay barley cover the true costs of housing and care, and nursing homes are forced to operate on dangerously thin margins. Further cuts to their budgets will have an immediate and negative impact on the quality of care that it is possible to provide. Nursing homes and long term care services are often large employers in local communities, and these cuts will also have a negative economic impact for towns across the United States.
Studies have shown that many people are unaware of the differences between Medicare and Medicaid and how long term care in a nursing home or assisted living environment is paid for. As government budgets continue to be stretched thin by shrinking tax dollars and a growing senior population, the burden to pay for the costs of housing and care for seniors will continue to be pushed back on the individual. The unfortunate truth is that as more and more baby boomers age and require long term care, their will be fewer dollars available to pay for these rising costs. Every family should take the time to understand how the system works, and put their own plan in place for how they will pay for themselves, or for loved ones when the time comes.