Tax would help Md. seniors in long term care

March 10, 2010

At a time when state budgets across the nation are under enormous strain, it is refreshing to see that Maryland's lawmakers are focusing on solutions and taking important steps to protect the quality of care for our nation's most vulnerable citizens. The March 7 op-ed, "Tax us to help us," illustrates the importance of stable funding to quality nursing home care.

To fully understand why the "quality assessment" tax cited in the article would be benefit Maryland's seniors and those most in need, as well as the state budget, you must look to its roots. Since the 1980s, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has assessed long term care providers with quality fees, also characterized as "provider taxes," in order to generate additional federal revenue to help fund state Medicaid program costs. The majority of states use such quality assessment fees to offset shortfalls that would compromise quality long term care and services for seniors and persons with disabilities or negatively impact staffing, given the rapidly escalating costs of providing care.

States across America are struggling to control Medicaid costs while also ensuring frail, elderly and disabled citizens can continue to access the quality nursing home care that they need. Implementing the Budget Reconciliation & Financing Act (Senate Bill 141), would help to plug Maryland's Medicaid funding shortfalls and ensure there is adequate funding for staff and the long term care and services they provide to Maryland seniors and persons with disabilities.

Bruce Yarwood, Washington

The writer is President and CEO of the American Health Care Association.

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