Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Section GG: What's it All About?

Holly Harmon

Beginning October 1, 2016 skilled nursing centers will be required to report information to CMS for the SNF Quality Reporting Program required under IMPACT (Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation) Act of 2014.

Section GG item set for self-care and mobility will be added to MDS 3.0 and required to complete on the PPS 5 day and PPS Part a Discharge Assessments. Information from Section GG will be used to calculate the standardized measure of Percent of Residents With an Admission and Discharge Functional Assessment and a Care Plan That Addresses Function” (NQF #2631). This measure reports the percentage of residents with both an Admission and a Discharge functional assessment and an activity (self-care or mobility) goal that addresses function.

Section GG items focus on admission performance, discharge goals and discharge performance. CMS has not specified who should complete Section GG, but has emphasized the importance of collaboration among members of the interdisciplinary team. Final direction and guidance on coding Section GG has not been released yet from CMS, however AHCA has developed a two-page introduction to Section GG with a section on what you can do to prepare for Section GG.

New LTC Trend Tracker Resource for Assisted Living

Lindsay Schwartz, Ph.D.

 AHCA/NCAL just released a new resource for assisted living members on LTC Trend Tracker. This one-pager explains what LTC Trend Tracker is and how your assisted living community can utilize it as a tool for quality improvement. LTC Trend Tracker enables your assisted living community to benchmark metrics against your peers and gives you access to data for your AHCA/NCAL Quality Award application. LTC Trend Tracker is an exclusive AHCA/NCAL member benefit. Sign-up and get started tracking key quality metrics today!

Update from the DNC


Last night at the Democratic National Convention DNC, Hillary Clinton made history as the first ever female presidential nominee for a major party when she was named the nominee for the Democratic Party. Also announced was Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator, Tim Kaine. Kaine will be introduced at a campaign rally on Saturday in Miami.

Speakers at the DNC so far have included former President Bill Clinton, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Hillary Clinton will not speak until Thursday when she will deliver her greatly anticipated presidential nomination speech, introduced by her daughter, Chelsea (similar to Trump’s introduction by daughter Ivanka). Until then, we can look forward to President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden who are scheduled to speak this evening.

State Trends in the Delivery of Medicaid Managed Long-Term Services and Supports

Lilly Hummel

On July 20, 2016, the Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. published a new brief, “State Trends in the Delivery of Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports.” As many states are now shifting their focus to expand the reach and effectiveness of their managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS) programs, this brief summarizes insights and trends from seven selected states (Arizona, California, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas). One key finding highlights state and federal policymakers’ emphasis on addressing supportive housing needs as a critical component for safety keeping individuals in the community. The brief provides examples of efforts by states to dedicate Medicaid resources to establish strong housing and MLTSS program linkages and requiring health plans to do the same, among other efforts.

CDC Provides Best Practices for Appropriate Antibiotic Use in Dentistry

Holly Harmon

In an article published today in The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) provide best practices for responsible antibiotic use in dentistry.

Dentists write nearly 26 million prescriptions for antibiotics each year, which amounts to 10 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions filled in outpatient pharmacies. While the extent is unknown, experts are concerned that unnecessary antibiotic prescribing occurs in dental settings. To assist throughout the entire antibiotic prescribing process, CDC and OSAP have developed a checklist to guide dentists through pretreatment, prescribing, and patient and staff education.

Patients are encouraged to use the Do’s and Don’ts for ensuring patient safety when they or their loved ones are prescribed antibiotics at the dentist.

Are Qualified Candidates Looking At Your Job Announcements?

Dave Kyllo

In the last 12 months, each 30-day job posting on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center had an average of 1,485 views. Unlike other job sites that target anyone wanting any job with a paycheck, the Long Term Care Career Center attracts qualified health care professionals interested in positions and careers in the long term care field.

Rates for posting job vacancies are affordable and give prospective employers far greater exposure than local ads and job boards by connecting to a network of more than 330 health care organizations and societies. Employers are also able to post vacancies as they occur and search resumes on the network. And, of course, the LTC Career Center is always free for job seekers.
Now is the time to give the Long Term Care Career Center a try because new users receive 25% off their first posting. Simply enter promo code New25off to receive this special discounted price.
Employers who utilize the site receive additional exposure through rotating job listings on AHCA’s home page – the web site where long term care professionals go for news and information. Employers also receive bonus rotating listings on the Long Term Care Career Center home page.
To reach talented health care professionals, check out the LTC Career Center today and remember to enter promo code New25off to save 25% on your first job posting.

Monday, July 25, 2016

HIPAA Not Current with Apps

Dianne De La Mare 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have released a report, Examining Oversight of the Privacy & Security of Health Data Collected by Entities Not Regulated by HIPAA, that finds significant gaps in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) ability to protect information generated by fitness trackers and other mobile apps. Specifically, the report looks at the lack of guidance around access to and protection of consumer health information used by organizations not covered under the current HIPAA regulations. The report indicates that although health privacy and security experts clearly understand where HIPPA protections end, the typical layperson has a very limited understanding about this matter. The federal government plans to seek additional stakeholder input on this topic in the near future.



CPI Updates Nursing Home Toolkit


CMS, Center for Program Integrity (CPI)  has recently updated its Nursing Home Toolkit, which contains booklets and fact sheets written for providers and beneficiaries that participate in the Medicaid program. Specifically, the toolkit aimed at the providers contains information about common types of fraud in the nursing care center environment. The booklet and fact sheet aimed at beneficiaries includes information concerning eligibility and admission criteria, and resident rights and quality of care. Any questions about the toolkit can be directed to Medicaid Provider Education.

DOJ Files Lawsuit to Block Health Insurance Merger


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), along with attorney generals from several states, have filed two lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to attempt to block two mega healthcare insurance mergers. The lawsuits attempt to halt Anthem’s proposed acquisition of Cigna and Aetna’s proposed acquisition of Humana. The complaints allege that the two mergers – valued at $54 billion and $37 billion respectively – would harm seniors, working families and individuals, employers and doctors and other healthcare providers by:
  • limiting price completion, 
  •  reducing benefits, 
  • decreasing incentives to provide innovative wellness programs and 
  • lowering the quality of care. 
“Competitive insurance markets are essential to providing Americans the affordable and high-quality healthcare they deserve….These mergers would restrict competition for health insurance products sold in markets across the country and would give tremendous power over the nation’s health insurance industry to just three large companies. Our actions seeks to preserve competition that keeps premiums down and drives insurers to collaborate with doctors and hospitals to provide better healthcare for all Americans,” said The DOJ, Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.

See DOJ announcement.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Assisted Living Caregivers Named the Nation’s Best: NCAL Awards Program recipients announced


The nation’s best assisted living employees this year come from Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, and Virginia. Today, the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) announced the recipients of the 2016 NCAL Awards Program, which recognizes caregivers in four distinct categories who demonstrate exceptional work in the assisted living profession. The four categories of the NCAL Awards Program are administrator, nurse, noble caregiver, and National Assisted Living Week® program of the year.

“Each of the NCAL Award winners exemplify what it means to go ‘above and beyond the call of duty’,” said NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle. “NCAL is honored to pay tribute to the extraordinary, selfless work of these recipients, and we hope their passion inspires others to pursue a career in assisted living.”

The four award recipients are:

Administrator of the Year: Carmy Jerome at Aspen House Memory Care Assisted Living, in Loveland, Colorado;
Assisted Living Nurse of the Year: Stephanie Lavigne at Machias Maine Veterans’ Homes in Machias, Maine;
Noble Caregiver in Assisted Living: Angela Humes at Dogwood Village Senior Living in Orange, Virginia.; and
National Assisted Living Week Program of the Year: Brandywine Senior Living Princeton in Princeton, New Jersey.


As the executive director of Aspen House Memory Care Assisted Living, Jerome has demonstrated a unique commitment to promoting and offering a person-centered care environment. With 40 residents living with dementia, Jerome focuses on exhausting every alternative before seeking medicinal intervention when a resident presents challenging behaviors. She also researches each resident’s personal history to discern preferences and interests. The respect that Jerome has earned among her stuff is what has contributed to the community’s 30 percent reduction in staff turnover. NCAL’s state affiliate, the Colorado Health Care Association, named Jerome Administrator of the Year in 2014. She also currently serves on the NCAL Board of Directors as an at-large representative.


Lavigne is the residential care director for the Maine Veterans’ Home at Machias, a 30-bed memory care assisted living community in the Pine Tree State. Her desire to learn and implement new evidence-based practices has prompted culture change, improved resident safety, and increased resident and family satisfaction. One area in which her leadership has improved the lives of residents is the dramatic reduction in the off-label use of antipsychotics. Some of the changes Lavigne implemented were as simple as decreasing noises from alarms and call bell systems as well as offering more ambient lighting, which improved residents’ sleep and reduced wandering. Lavigne also worked with nursing staff to offer residents iPods with their favorite music and adult coloring classes in the afternoon when many residents experience sundowning symptoms. In 2015, Maine Veterans’ Home named her employee of the year.

Humes has worked at Dogwood Village Senior Living for 35 years as a certified nurse assistant and registered medication aide. Her passion to care for her residents is evident by her intimate knowledge of their preferences and ability to anticipate their needs. On her days off, Humes volunteers by taking residents to their appointments, shopping, or out for their birthdays. Her coworkers consider her positive energy, effective communication skills, and devotion to teamwork to be a real motivator. She is frequently asked to mentor new employees and consistently assumes responsibility to assure the best quality care practices are in place for residents. Dogwood Village says that when residents pass away, the community often receives notes from residents’ loved ones, thanking Humes for going above.


The staff members of Brandywine Senior Living Princeton created an enriching National Assisted Living Week® for its residents, seamlessly capturing the 2015 theme “Nourishing Life: Mind, Body and Spirit.” The week was chockfull of unique events organized by the community, including a Tai chi demonstration right in the heart of downtown Princeton, an intergenerational event with first grade students and baby farm animals, and wellness checkups with the community’s nursing and therapy staff. The Brandywine community also brought in service dogs to demonstrate the benefits of pet therapy and a held fundraiser for the Princeton Parkinson’s Alliance. Perhaps most notably, residents and staff members participated in a video to the tune of Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” which was featured on the local news.

The award winners will be recognized Oct. 16, 2016, at a special awards ceremony during the 10th Annual NCAL Day, held as part of the 67th Annual AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo.