Wednesday, April 24, 2019

AHCA/NCAL and AALNA Caring Together Webinar: Pain Management in the Elderly

Please join AHCA/NCAL and the American Assisted Living Nurses Association (AALNA) for our quarterly Caring Together webinar on Monday, April 29th at 3:00pm Eastern on pain management. Our presenter, Kevin W. O’Neil, MD, FACP, CMD, Chief Medical Officer for Affinity Living Group will discuss sources of pain in the elderly and review methods for assessing pain in the elderly. Participants will learn to recognize common pain behaviors in cognitively impaired older adults. Dr. O’Neil will address nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic management of persistent pain. Potential adverse effects associated with drugs (e.g., acetaminophen, NSAIDs, opioids) will be discussed. Please register here prior to the webinar.

New Five-Star Ratings Live on Nursing Home Compare

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published new Five-Star rankings on its Nursing Home Compare (NHC) website that reflect several significant updates to all three components of the system - survey, staffing and quality. A summary of the changes can be found here (member login required).

On April 8, AHCA hosted a webinar that walked through these new changes. Members can access the recorded webinar and other resources here.

AHCA has several tools to help members continue to improve. AHCA/NCAL's LTC Trend Tracker here is a one-stop-shop that allows members to gain timely information and valuable insight about their own performance as well as the entire profession's, including reports that capture Five-Star and Quality Measure (QM) rates.

For questions on the new Five-Star ratings, please email

CMS Issues FY2020 SNF Proposed Payment Rule

Natalie Visnick

On April 19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the proposed rule for the skilled nursing facility (SNF) prospective payment system (PPS) for FY (Fiscal Year) 2020. The proposed rule includes a net market basket increase of 2.5 percent, which CMS estimates would increase Medicare SNF payments by approximately $887 million in FY 2020. Additionally, CMS expanded the definition of “group” therapy. Specifically, CMS notes, “we are proposing to define group therapy in the SNF Part A setting as a qualified rehabilitation therapist or therapy assistant treating two to six patients at the same time who are performing the same or similar activities.”

CMS also issued the proposed rule with no material changes in the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) payment policy section. In addition to advancing PDPM itself, the FY 2020 proposed rule, as expected, continues to advance the integration of payment policy and quality-related provisions with PDPM and quality reporting, producing new implications from the proposed rule for SNFs.

AHCA provided a full summary of all the payment updates (member login required).

Register Today for ICD-10 Coding Online Training Built for SNF PDPM Success

Dave Kyllo

The October 1 PDPM implementation date is rapidly approaching and training key staff now to be ICD-10 proficient is critical. The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) are offering ICD-10 on-line training. Because staff needs differ based their coding responsibilities, two specific trainings have been developed – one training for coders and a shorter less intense course for non-coders. 

AHCA/AHIMA ICD-10 Training for PDPM – Coder is an in-depth course designed for SNF billing staff, MDS staff, Nursing and Therapy staff, and Admissions and Discharge staff.  The course contains seven modules and comes with 16 CNEs for nurses and 16 AHIMA CEs upon successful completion.  The cost is $499 for AHCA members and $599 for non-members.

AHCA/AHIMA ICD-10 Training for PDPM – Non-Coder is a four-hour course developed for individuals who need to lead a successful PDPM transition and is intended for Administrators, DONs, and other management staff.  The course for non-coders comes with 4 CNEs for nurses, 4 AHHIMA CEs or 4.5 NAB approved CEs upon successful completion.  The cost is $199 for AHCA members and $249 for non-members.

With thousands of codes and changes based on the new Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM), accurate ICD-10 coding is essential. PDPM relies on accurate patient assessments and diagnosis on the MDS and ICD-10 coding to determine payment for each patient. Inaccurate coding can negatively impact a facility’s bottom line and resident care.
To learn more or register for either on-line training, please visit the websites below.    
Members will need to login with their AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords.  For assistance obtaining AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords, please e-mail with your name and facility contact information. 

The Checks are Coming in for AHCA/NCAL Members Who Use Cleary Energy to Audit their Utility Bills

Dave Kyllo

Most long term care facilities (about 75%) are being overcharged for one or more of their utilities and these overpayments are wasted dollars out the door. Providers don’t receive better service or any other benefit for over paying utility companies. The good news is that putting an end to the overpayments is easy.

Cleary Energy is a AHCA/NCAL preferred provider and has recouped on average 4% to 8% savings on utilities for long term care facility customers. A midwestern assisted living facility reported last week that it received $5,800 from utility overpayments that Cleary Energy recently found.   
Cleary Energy performs utility bill audits by examining utility, supplier and government charges on utility bills to obtain refunds and/or credits and rate reductions.  Specifically, Cleary Energy audits a facility’s electric, natural gas, propane, heating oil, diesel fuel, water, sewer and telecommunications bills. 

The program is designed to save AHCA/NCAL members significant money on their utility bills without adding new expenses to their budgets.  Cleary Energy guarantees savings or its auditing services are free.  Cleary Energy’s fees are based on facility savings on their utility bills. 

AHCA/NCAL member facilities enter into an audit agreement with Cleary Energy, which is a shared savings agreement that lasts for a period of three years.  If no refund, savings or credits are received, the AHCA/NCAL member facility owes nothing to Cleary Energy for conducting the audit and AHCA/NCAL members will have the peace of mind of knowing that their facilities are not being overcharged for their utilities.   

The process for engaging Cleary Energy to conduct a utility audit is easy.  Most of the information Cleary Energy needs to complete an audit comes directly from the utilities or suppliers. 

Cleary Energy’s long term care experience sets the company apart. The founder of Cleary Energy has 40 years of long term care experience and has spent the last seven years specializing in finding energy cost savings for skilled nursing, assisted living and senior living centers.  That in-depth knowledge of long term care operations enables Cleary Energy to find the greatest costs savings on utility expenses for AHCA/NCAL members because Cleary Energy knows where to look for savings. 

Cleary Energy has been finding huge savings for AHCA/NCAL members, so now is the time to take advantage of this unique no-risk opportunity to save on utility costs.  Contact Cleary Energy today in one of the three ways listed below. 

Gero Nurse Prep Spring Sale Ends April 30: Register Now and Strengthen Your RN Team!

Dave Kyllo

New research conducted by AHCA/NCAL shows that SNFs that employ at least one American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Board certified RN also, on average, performed higher on SNF VBP performance. The average 2017 SNF VBP performance score across the nation was 34.4.  For SNFs with at least one RN who has been ANCC Board certified in gerontological nursing, the average SNF VBP performance score was 44.2.  The net result is that these SNFs get higher Medicare Part A reimbursements. 
The AHCA/NCAL 2019 research also found that SNFs with at least one ANCC Board certified RN also experienced:
  • Fewer survey deficiencies
  • Fewer IJ citations
  • Lower rehospitalization rates
  • Lower rates of off-label use of antipsychotics
  • Higher CMS 5-Star ratings
The ANCC offers certification in gerontological nursing – the gold standard in demonstrating clinical excellence in geriatric patient care.  ANCC is the world’s largest and most prestigious nurse credentialing organization and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association.  Less than one percent of America’s RNs are board certified in gerontological nursing. 

To help RNs prepare for the certification exam, AHCA/NCAL offers an online course called Gero Nurse Prep.  RNs who complete the course earn 30 nursing contact hours and experience a 96% pass rate on the ANCC certification exam on the first try.  Gero Nurse Prep students see a whopping 24 percent average increase between their pre- and post-test scores.

Gero Nurse Prep is flexible.  RNs study online at their own pace and have one year from the time they enroll to complete their Gero Nurse Prep coursework.  

Gero Nurse Prep is on sale through April 30!  Save $100 off the regular registration fee by using promo code VBP2019 (all caps).  AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep provides tremendous value at this AHCA/NCAL member $590 sale price.   That’s less than $20 per contact hour for outstanding nursing education that makes a measurable difference on so many fronts.  For RNs interested in pursuing Board certification through ANCC, there is an additional and separate cost of $395.

To learn more about Gero Nurse Prep and ANCC Board certification, watch this video. For an even deeper dive into competent geriatric nursing, listen to this free AHCA/NCAL webinar “Improving Clinical Outcomes through Competent Gerontological Nurses.” 
If your RNs are not yet ANCC Board certified, take this important step on your quality journey and check out AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep today.        

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Congressional Briefing Stacked with Unique Events and Guests: Register Today

Danielle Levitan

Don't miss all of the exciting and valuable events taking place at this year's Congressional Briefing June 3-4 in the heart of the nation's capital. See the complete agenda and make your plans today. AHCA/NCAL has requested 8.5 CEs. for nursing home administrators, assisted living administrators, and nurses. Individuals seeking approval for all other professional licensures must file independently and should contact Teresa Eyet,, Senior Director, Education and Development for the materials needed.

Please be aware that our online registration portal is temporarily unavailable while we make some improvements to our service. You can register for the Congressional Briefing by downloading and completing the registration form, then email it to or fax to 202-898-6302.

Keynote Speaker: John Roberts, Chief White House Correspondant, Fox News
This year's Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Award winners are Nanci Wilson, Industry/Government Liaison and Partner at Plum Healthcare Group, LLC and Leonard Russ, Principal Partner of Bayberry Health Care. The awards will be given out on the afternoon of June 3rd, following the Congressional Briefing and keynote address. A reception follows.

Nanci Wilson, Industry/Government Liaison and Partner at Plum Healthcare Group, LLC

Leonard Russ, Principal Partner of Bayberry Health Care

HCS Extended Deadlines for CCRC and Nursing Home Salary & Benefits Studies

HCS has extended the deadlines for both the CCRC and Nursing Home Salary & Benefits studies. 

  • The CCRC study deadline has been extended to Friday, May 3rd.  
  • The Nursing Home study deadline has been extended until Monday, May 20th. 

Those that need additional time should contact Rich Cioffe,, or (201) 405-0075, ext. 10. 

Questionnaires are available on the HCS website:  Facilities with multiple locations in varying counties or states should use the Multi-Site questionnaire; facilities with one location should download the Single-Site survey. 

Reminder -- Participants receive a reduced rate off the Report price.  The CCRC Salary & Benefits Report will be published in late June; the Nursing Home Report will be published in late July.

Thriving in the Shark Waters of Healthcare…How Non-Profits Meet the Challenge

Dana Halvorson

AHCA Not for Profit Council (NFP) member and Program Director for Long-Term Care Administration at St. Joseph's College, Steve Chies, recently did an ahcancalED recording entitled, “Thriving in the Shark Waters of Healthcare….How Non-Profits Meet the Challenge.”  You can view the recording here.  The main learning objectives include:

  • Understand the key business model elements for skilled nursing facility operations.
  • Lists tactics for non-profit providers in meeting the challenges in skilled nursing facility
  • operations.
  • Create models for sustainability in skilled nursing operations.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Steve Chies at

Mary K. Ousley Champion of Quality Award Nominations Are Open!

Erin Prendergast

AHCA is now accepting nominations for the 2019 Mary K. Ousley Champion of Quality Award. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant national contributions in advancing quality performance in long term and/or post-acute care in skilled nursing or assisted living settings.

Nominations must be submitted online here by Friday, June 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The recipient will be announced the week of July 24 and will be presented with the award on stage at the 70th AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo, October 13-16 in Orlando, Florida. This year’s recipient will receive a complementary registration to Convention, round-trip airfare, and a one-night hotel stay. For more information about the Champion of Quality Award and past recipients, please visit the award web page here

Nominate today, and honor a long term or post-acute care colleague who is dedicated to improving the lives of others and their surrounding communities.