Cross-country grassroots tour stresses need for nation’s leaders to address funding inadequacy for senior care
LAS VEGAS – To help resolve the chronic underfunding of Nevada’s and the nation’s rehabilitative and long term care services, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) have teamed up to conduct a nationwide Driving for Quality Care petition initiative.
The RV tour will arrive in Las Vegas at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 3, at the Marquis Care Plaza Regency – located at 6021 W. Cheyenne Ave. The tour will also visit Carson City at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22, at a location to be determined.
The goal of the cross-country tour is to urge President Obama as well as state and local leaders throughout the country to help resolve the chronic underfunding of the nation’s rehabilitative and long term care services. In Nevada, the Driving for Quality Care team will meet with local and state wide leaders as part of their cross-country tour efforts.
“This national RV tour emphasizes the need for adequate, stable and consistent Medicaid funding, which is crucial for high quality care, quality of life, and quality staffing in care communities across America,” said Erin Sprando, administrator of Marquis Care Plaza Regency. “We urgently need the Nevada congressional delegation to help ensure Congress passes emergency Medicaid relief. At a time when Nevada and other states are struggling with budgetary emergencies, enhanced federal Medicaid funding will help us protect seniors’ access to quality care and preserve jobs for our key front line staff.
The organizers of Driving for Quality Care said the nationwide RV tour will empower seniors, family members, and caregivers by inviting them to sign the initiative’s actual or online national petition, to reach out to local legislators, to recruit supporters via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and to follow the tour’s progress from Washington, D.C., to Long Beach, Calif., on its interactive website, www.drivingforqualitycare.com.
“Even if Congress passes the emergency FMAP extension – which it must – the Medicaid program itself will confront a steep funding cliff in the years ahead that can only be resolved by passing federal legislation to address the chronic and growing underfunding of senior care,” said Charles Perry, executive director for Nevada Health Care Association. “Our profession’s robust quality improvement agenda and our ability to improve staffing stability in the face of an unprecedented demographic challenge require passage of the Nursing Home Patient & Medicaid Assistance Act of 2010.”
The Nursing Home Patient & Medicaid Assistance Act of 2010 (H.R. 5457) would assist long term and rehabilitation centers by providing supplemental Medicaid payments for specific nursing facilities.
“Keeping Nevada’s long term and rehabilitative care sector strong keeps Nevada strong,” Perry said, citing the state’s long term care sector as an integral, critical segment of the state economy, contributing $805 million annually in economic activity, which equates to 7 percent of Nevada’s economic activity. “As our Driving for Quality Care RV makes its way across America, we will remind our elected officials that, for many communities, our care facilities are often the largest employer, especially in rural America. We also want to underscore that patients are benefitting from rehabilitative care in these facilities, which increasingly allows them to quickly return home to live productive, healthy lives.”
A recent national poll from The Mellman Group finds that Americans, by significant margins, strongly support passage of federal Medicaid relief and are vehemently opposed to any additional state Medicaid cuts. Significantly, 62percent of the likely voters polled favor passage of federal Medicaid relief; 78 percent oppose additional state Medicaid cuts beyond those already enacted by governors and state legislatures; and 64 percent are more likely to vote against state lawmakers voting for more cuts to seniors’ Medicaid-funded nursing home care.
Another key aspect of the RV tour, organizers pointed out, is that the national, state and local attention it will bring to rigorous quality improvement programs, which serve as a cornerstone of the profession’s mission.
“With approximately 70 percent of facility costs here in Nevada and nationwide directly related to staffing, the enormous instability caused by Congress’ failure to pass emergency Medicaid relief and cumulative federal Medicare cuts of nearly $27 billion in just the past nine months places our vulnerable seniors’ ongoing care needs in direct jeopardy, and puts key facility jobs at substantial risk,” Sprando said. “This is a facility that attracts committed, dedicated caregivers – and it is urgent for Congress to both pass the emergency Medicaid funding in addition to strengthening for the long term the health care safety net that so many of Nevada’s seniors depend upon to meet their healthcare needs.”
Specific RV Tour itinerary and additional information is available at www.drivingforqualitycare.com.
The Nevada Health Care Association is a non-profit organization of long-term care facilities and associate members together representing nearly 50 non-profit and for-profit assisted living, nursing facilities and sub-acute care providers that care for nearly 6,000 elderly and disabled individuals statewide and employ more than 8,000 Nevadans.
For more information regarding Nevada Health Care Association, call 702-434-2273 or visit www.nvhca.org.