Some Florida nursing homes may be closing their doors soon due to an 11.4% cut in Medicare payments and a 6.5% rollback in state Medicaid reimbursements. This amounts to $4.47 billion cut nationwide, and $332 million cut for Florida alone. These cuts will affect more than 700 skilled nursing facilities and an estimated 71,000 nursing home residents in Florida. For those nursing homes that don't close, patients can expect fewer amenities as well as a shrinking number of staff members.

Fewer staff in a nursing home can rapidly turn into quality of life issues for the patients.

With all this talk about Medicaid and Medicare, you may be wondering, what are Medicaid and Medicare? Medicaid and Medicare are two governmental programs that provide medical and health-related services to specific groups of people in the United States. More specifically, Medicaid is a health and medical services program for certain individuals and families with low incomes and few resources. Medicaid does not provide assistance to all poor persons. I it is estimated that 60% of America's poor are not covered by the program. Although the federal government has mandatory requirements, each state administers its own Medicaid program.

Medicare is a federally funded health insurance program that pays for hospital and medical care for elderly and certain disabled Americans. For Medicare, elderly is defined as anyone over 65, disabled is anyone under 65 and receiving disability as well as anyone with End Stage Renal Disease requiring dialysis or transplant. American is defined as an individual that is a U.S citizen or a permanent legal resident for 5 continuous years and is eligible for Social Security benefits with at least ten years of payments contributed into the system.

Since Medicare gives about $50,000 more per patient annually than Medicaid does, this cut could mean less care for Medicaid patients. Nursing homes will need to start screening their incoming patients much better, meaning there will be less people eligible for nursing home stays.

Joseph Ouslander, a geriatrician who advises the federal government on health care quality, said the cuts are being made to put an added stress on nursing homes to keep them from sending their sickest patients to the hospital so often. They are trying to reduce the unnecessary hospital admissions and readmissions.

The main fear with these cuts on the horizon is how many nursing homes will still be open when the baby boomers need them?

For the original article found in the Herald Tribune click here

Damian Mallard, Esq.
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