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Poll finds majority of Americans oppose cuts in long-term care for elderly Medicaid patients

WASHINGTON — Nearly 2-of-every-3 Americans said they would oppose any further cuts to federally funded care for seniors needing long-term care.

A newly released nationwide survey from the Zogby polling firm found that 65% of Americans expressed opposition to policies that resulted in cuts to Medicaid funding for nursing home care for the nation’s poor and elderly. The American Health Care Association, which sponsored the poll, also reported these findings Friday:

  • A plurality of respondents (40%) said they strongly opposed such cuts to nursing home care;

  • A strong majority (66%) said they would oppose policies that resulted in additional cuts to Medicare funding for nursing home care for seniors, with
 39% saying they strongly opposed such action;

  • Nearly three-quarters of likely voters (72%) said the federal government's
 role in helping states to meet their financial obligations to cover such programs as Medicaid is important, with 45% saying it is very important; and

  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of likely voters said they supported extending additional Medicaid funding to state governments in response to state deficits and economic difficulties, with one-third (33%) saying they strongly supported such action.

AHCA’s president and CEO, Mark Parkinson, said the survey results were clear. “As a former governor, I know firsthand the difficult decisions lawmakers face during these tough economic times,” he said. “Despite the nation’s fiscal difficulties, the American people are very clear on where they don’t want cuts: at the expense of the frail and elderly.”

The poll results come on the heels of a study from research firm Eljay, which on Thursday released new projections showing that state Medicaid programs under-funded nursing facility care by $5.6 billion in 2010. On average, according to the researcher, those long-term care centers paid only $7.17 per hour per patient for care, less than the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

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