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Don’t touch Medicare

Nursing center residents add names to congressional petition

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Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 1:15 pm

Residents, caregivers and employees of a Sun City West skilled nursing center signed a 10-foot-long petition Wednesday, urging Congress to refrain from cutting Medicare and Medicaid.

The Coalition to Protect Seniors and staff from Choice Rehab encouraged area residents during a press conference to sign the document that will be sent to Washington D.C.

Lisa Cantrell, national spokeswoman for the coalition, said the Sun City West facility is the second stop on a national tour to obtain signatures. The coalition does not have a specific number of signatures in mind.

“While Congress is debating cuts, the state Legislature has already cut Medicaid by 5 percent for nursing home care that takes effect in October,” she said. “We don’t want the ax to fall again, because this jeopardizes the elderly and the staff who takes care of them.”

Cantrell said it’s the reason the Coalition to Protect Seniors chose to create the lengthy petition.

“There is strength in numbers with this,” she said. “The race to protect Medicare and Medicaid isn’t a sprint, but a marathon.”

Terry Granger, administrator of Choice Rehab, said he supports the petition.

“Skilled nursing facilities can’t face any more funding reductions, because this would be devastating to our residents,” Granger said. “We deserve support from our government, and if more cuts are made, it could be a domino effect for not only our residents, but with the staff.”

Tammy Lake, a certified nurse aide at Choice Rehab, said more cuts could cost her job.

“We need to reach out to the federal government and let them know the long-term workforce could be affected by all of these decisions,” she said.

Sun City Grand resident Joann Wentzloff said Medicare and Medicaid cuts have hit close to home for her family.

Wentzloff’s brother, Jerry Bordeaux, and his wife, Sylvia, suffer from multiple sclerosis. The couple had an in-home nurse’s assistant, but lost that help due to Medicare cuts.

The Bordeauxes then moved to Choice Rehab in Sun City West for care.

“It’s important for us to do whatever we can to protect the efforts of senior care,” she said.

Jackie Hunt, a Choice Rehab resident, agreed.

“Medicare and Medicaid are tough cookies right now, but we have to do our best to make sure nothing else gets cut,” Hunt said.

Cantrell said the petition was signed Tuesday at a health care facility in Scottsdale and will move on this week to several other states.

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