Summaries of recent developments related to long-term care issues in Congress appear below.Arbitration: Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) has introduced the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (HR 1237), which would make arbitration prior to court disputes between long-term care facilities and residents invalid and unenforceable, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to Sanchez's office, the bill would not prohibit arbitration, but would give people the option to choose whether they arbitrate conflicts. Sanchez in a statement said, "Arbitration agreements are often buried in overly complicated contracts, and many consumers do not realize they are waiving their legal options." The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living oppose the legislation, saying that pre-disputed agreements foster timely, easier settlements, curb rising lawsuit costs and allow staff to focus on patient care (Kim, CQ HealthBeat, 3/3).

Home and community-based spending: Of the $113 billion Medicaid spent on long-term care in 2007, 53% went to nursing homes and 47% went to care in home and community-based programs, according to testimony given by Thomas Hamilton, director of the survey and certification group at the Center for Medicaid and State Operations of CMS, at a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on Wednesday, CQ HealthBeat reports. Hamilton said the almost even split "reflects the progress of the rebalancing efforts in the growing community-based initiatives." The ratio of institutional to community-based spending has been as high as 80 to 20, according to Hamilton. He also said that home and community-based services "actually contained institutional costs and helped states moderate the growth of Medicaid spending overall" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 3/3). Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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