Consumer and provider long-term-care groups urged the Senate to replace the Medicaid cuts in its fiscal 2006 budget resolution with an amendment that would establish a one-year bipartisan commission to develop a more comprehensive policy to address Medicaid's problems. Hal Daub, president and chief executive officer at nursing-home industry group American Health Care Association, said in a news release, "States have a legitimate complaint with federal cost-shifting, and airing and debating some of those grievances have the potential to help us establish better policy for our seniors requiring long-term-care services." The AHCA was among six groups that sent a joint letter to senators in support of the amendment being sponsored by Sens. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). The other groups were the AARP, Alzheimer's Association, American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, National Association for Home Care & Hospice, and the Service Employees International Union.
In other Washington news, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt described the current system for establishing Medicare physician rates as "unresponsive to reality" in a speech at the American Medical Association's National Advocacy Conference. More than 600 physicians from around the country gathered in Washington for the two-day meeting, which ended today. -- by Ralph Loos