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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 25, 1999
                       FOR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS

              Signing Ceremony for the Nursing Home Resident 
                          Protection Act of 1999
                     The Oval Office, The White House
                              March 25, 1999

Today, President Clinton will sign the Nursing Home Resident Protection Act of 1999, which prohibits nursing homes that decide to withdraw from the Medicaid program from expelling or transferring current residents who are enrolled in Medicaid. He will also urge Congress to pass the nursing home quality enforcement provisions in his FY 2000 budget, which provide over $309 million to prevent nursing home resident abuse and neglect, an unprecedented 31 percent increase ($74 million) over last year's funding level.

A BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO PROTECT VULNERABLE OLDER AMERICANS The Nursing Home Resident Protection Act of 1999 provides critical new protections to the hundreds of thousands of nursing home patients who rely on Medicaid to pay for their care. Current law allows nursing homes to reduce or eliminate the portion of their facilities that are available to Medicaid patients as long as the residents are given 30 days notice before they will have to leave the facility. This legislation, sponsored by Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) and Congressman Jim Davis (D-FL), together with Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), prohibits nursing homes that decide to stop accepting Medicaid patients from evicting those residents who currently depend on the program to pay for their care. It was approved by an overwhelming margin (398-12) in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate. Two-thirds of nursing home residents depend on Medicaid to pay for their nursing home care, and with nursing home costs averaging $40,000 a year, about half of the residents who begin by paying for their care with their own money and health insurance must turn to Medicaid within three to five years.

AN UNPRECEDENTED INVESTMENT IN QUALITY CARE FOR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS President Clinton has proposed an unprecedented investment of $309 million for nursing home quality enforcement activities in his FY 2000 budget, an increase of 31 percent ($74 million) over last year's funding level. In addition to providing an additional $47 million for state survey and certification activities, an increase of 21.5 percent over last year's funding level - the proposals in the President's budget will provide additional assurances that nursing-home residents will receive the quality care that they deserve and expect, by: 1) requiring nursing homes to conduct criminal background checks of employees; 2) establishing a national registry of workers who have been convicted of abusing residents; and 3) allowing more types of nursing home workers with proper training to help residents eat and drink during busy mealtimes. President Clinton's investment in ensuring high quality care for these vulnerable older Americans stands in stark contrast to the proposed Republican budget, which cuts funding for nursing home quality enforcement activities by 10 percent.

BUILDING ON A LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO PROVIDING QUALITY HEALTH CARE TO NURSING HOME RESIDENTS The Clinton Administration has made ensuring the health and safety of nursing home residents a top priority and has issued the toughest nursing home regulations in the history of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Since 1993, President Clinton has taken steps to ensure that all nursing home residents receive good quality care, including: 1) increasing monitoring of nursing homes to ensure that they are in compliance; 2) requiring states to crack down on nursing homes that repeatedly violate health and safety requirements; and 3) changing the inspection process to increase the focus on preventing bedsores, malnutrition, and resident abuse. Most recently, the President has directed HHS to: 1) create higher civil monetary penalties for quality violations and provide that these penalties will be more quickly determined and imposed; 2) require states to investigate resident complaints within 10 days; and 3) begin a national campaign this spring to educate the public about the risk of malnutrition and dehydration and preventing abuse and neglect.