PHARMACY

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

BY Jim Frederick

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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PHARMACY

Walgreens, Take Care offer free blood pressure testing

BY Antoinette Alexander

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has announced that it is offering free blood pressure testing through Jan. 16 at all Walgreens pharmacies and Take Care Clinics nationwide, as announced Thursday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Blood pressure testing is available to adults ages 18 years and older during regular pharmacy and clinic hours. Each test includes a free consultation from a Walgreens pharmacist or Take Care Clinic nurse practitioner. The free blood pressure tests are not being done for diagnostic or treatment purposes and recipients are encouraged to report results to their primary care providers.

"It’s extremely important for people to know their numbers when it comes to blood pressure, because oftentimes there may not be symptoms that alert you to a problem," stated Richard Ashworth, Walgreens VP pharmacy operations. "Hypertension is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in our country today, and by offering free blood pressure testing at our more than 7,600 locations, we hope these services and interaction with our healthcare service providers encourage more people to make blood pressure monitoring a practice in managing their overall health."

According to the American Heart Association, more than 76 million people in the United States age 20 years and older have high blood pressure. Of those, the association stated that about 22% are unaware of their condition, 69% are receiving treatment and 45% have their blood pressure controlled.

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Marshall University names founding dean

BY Alaric DeArment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A coming-soon pharmacy school has a new dean, according to published reports.

The Charleston, W.Va., Gazette reported Thursday that Marshall University’s pharmacy school, which has yet to be created, had named Kevin Yingling as its founding dean. The university’s board of governors authorized the school to begin its application process with the American Council for Pharmacy Education to establish the school in October.

The pharmacy will be the third in the state, after the ones at West Virginia University and the University of Charleston. The newspaper reported that West Virginia is one of the top 10 states in terms of unmet pharmacist demand, and that number would continue to grow as the state’s population ages.

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