A hot-button topic since it came out of the White House, the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) is affecting healthcare providers across the board. The ACA mentions, but largely overlooks,1~ skilled nursing facilities. That is not to say that the implications of the Act do not reach these facilities, in both beneficial and detrimental ways.
Here’s the Top Seven ways that the Act could be affecting your skilled nursing facilities:
1. Quality care and safety standards.
We all want to be sure the facility that is caring for our loved ones is is providing a safe, and comfortable environment with the best of care around the clock. Entrusting those near and dear to complete strangers can be an extremely uneasy time. The ACA provides language targeted at all skilled nursing facilities that sets a bottom line ethics standard to prevent any violations, and promote the highest quality care.
2. Less funding for care
The ACA negatively impacts the coverage to Medicare, where most of the costs of skilled nursing facilities fall. Spending cuts to Medicare programs total over $700 billion. These spending cuts will allow providers less funds to work with, and those that can stay afloat while providing essential care will be forced to shift their costs in the form of higher prices to patients without Medicare.
3. Information availability
Under the Nursing Home Transparency Act bill of the ACA, facilities are required to provide information such as the names, titles and dates of service of any members or employees in a position of control or management in the facilities. This disclosure requirement seeks to deter any quality or safety violations, or, alternately, hold the appropriate parties responsible for any violations. Nursing staff and care and financial matters must also be disclosed under the ACA
4. Fewer choices for seniors
Medicare Advantage, a program that allowed competing coverage plans for seniors as an alternative to the base Medicare, is being phased out under the ACA. Under Medicare Advantage, beneficiaries may have had the financial ability to access skilled nursing facilities, but many will now be forced to revert to the less-generous Medicare plans that are already suffering gouges in budget. This will create further financial strain on the skilled nursing facilities that serve these beneficiaries.
5. Nursing Home Compare
With the implementation of Nursing Home Compare under the ACA, each skilled nursing facility bares all. Facilities provide any and all information including staffing, health inspection, penalties and complaints. Patients and their families will have the information to decide on appropriate skilled nursing facilities.
6. The ACA offers no additional Medicare coverage
What is most surprising to many Americans is the fact that the ACA does not extend the coverage of Medicare to payment for skilled nursing facilities. Traditional Medicare coverage may not cover all, if any, of a necessary nursing facility stay. Families may be shocked when forced to pay out of pocket. This oversight directly affects not only the family, but also the skilled nursing facilities when payment for services cannot be recovered.
7. Improvements in Cultural Understanding and Technology use
The ACA provides for two separate grants that will seek to improve the quality of care and compassion for patients in skilled nursing facilities. The first grant targets progression in the adaptability to cultural change, and the second improves the use of technology in everyday care.
Under the Affordable Care Act, skilled nursing facilities must meet the challenges of complying with higher safety and disclosure standards, while providing lower cost care to patients that are suffering a decrease in benefits.