Forty-three representatives, both Republicans and Democrats, told HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt that Congress may step in to restore Medicare long-term-care funding if cuts proposed in President Bush's fiscal 2006 budget take place. "We in Congress will once again be forced to restore funding that, if lost, will imperil access to quality long-term-care services for our seniors," according to a letter addressed to Leavitt and signed by the lawmakers. Bush's budget plan would change "resource utilization groups" to reduce Medicare funding for skilled nursing by up to $25 billion over 10 years, according to the American Health Care Association. Over the same period, Medicaid funding for skilled nursing could shrink by $39 billion, the association said. The group warned such cuts could hamper the CMS' Nursing Home Quality Initiative. The House and Senate are preparing to begin negotiations on a joint 2006 budget, during which Medicaid cuts sought by Bush and contained in the House proposal likely will be a contentious issue. -- by Ralph Loos
Congress members resist Medicare long-term-care cuts
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