Schatz, Murkowski, Hirono, Sullivan Reintroduce Bill to Ensure Fair Medicare Payments, Make Cost-Of-Living Adjustment for Hawai‘i, Alaska Nursing Homes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today reintroduced legislation that would provide for fair Medicare payments for nursing facilities in Hawai‘i and Alaska. The bipartisan Equitable Payments for Nursing Facilities Act will authorize a cost-of-living adjustment at skilled nursing facilities in those states to take into account the higher costs of delivering care.

“Our bill fixes the Medicare reimbursement rates so that Hawai‘i nursing homes get their fair share of federal dollars and have the resources to continue to provide high quality care,” said Senator Schatz.

“Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are vital to the needs of Alaska’s growing population of aging individuals. Unfortunately, the high cost of living in states like Alaska and Hawai‘i can create obstacles to ensuring the care and quality services these facilities work hard to provide,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m co-leading this bill to provide a simple, but necessary change to give greater parity and support to Alaska’s health care facilities.”

“Nursing homes provide essential care for our kupuna and other members of our communities,” said Senator Hirono. “Our bill will help ensure these facilities get the federal funding and support they need to continue serving our communities.”

“Health care in Alaska is among the most expensive and challenging to provide—a result of our vast, rugged geography and many small and rural communities,” said Senator Sullivan. “Our state’s nursing facilities assume a significant share of this burden, and it’s vital that they can continue to afford to serve Alaska’s elders. I’m glad to put forward legislation with Senator Schatz and my colleagues to adjust the federal funding formula so that it more realistically reflects the disproportionate costs these facilities face in Alaska and Hawai‘i, and ensures Alaska’s seniors continue to get the best care possible.”

While hospitals and certain other health care facilities in Hawai‘i and Alaska receive a cost-of-living adjustment under Medicare to account for higher non-wage costs, such as rent and utilities, than in other states, nursing facilities do not, making it more difficult for these critical nursing homes to operate.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Jill Tokuda (D-Hawai‘i), Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), and Ed Case (D-Hawai‘i).

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