Monday, December 19, 2011

Senior Flash Mobs Dance in the Holidays

Not in the holiday spirit yet? These seniors will help you out! As reported in NPR today, senior citizen flash mobs have been surprising shoppers across the country with fun Christmas dance routines. Check out their moves and let us know if you spot one!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's New at Provider Magazine

The current issue of Provider magazine takes an in-depth look at the funding changes in store for Medicaid programs across the nation as the federal government and states grapple with the challenge of paying for dual-eligible beneficiaries.

The cover story, "CMS Opens Gates to Funding Changes," takes a deeper look at managed care in the Medicaid world by going to providers in Arizona for answers. Arizona is one of the few states with managed care programs in place for long term care. As detailed in the story, the solutions favored by many policymakers in Washington may actually present another level of challenges for providers and drive dollars away from caring for Medicaid-eligible seniors. A source tells Wagner how the market has responded to the Medicaid shift to managed care by creating a new niche of facilities specializing in Medicare-only beneficiaries in Arizona.

This month’s Provider features a number of News Currents pieces on hot topics like observation stays, assisted living oversight, accountable care organizations, and quality data released by AHCA showing further progress in caring for residents. Columns focus on caregiving, management, and technology for long term care, from aquatic therapy gaining favor in facilities to telehealth options expanding in rural Georgia.

Check out the December issue for more.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In Case You Missed It

AHCA/NCAL President & CEO Mark Parkinson appeared on CNBC's Worldwide Exchange this morning. Check out a clip:

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Breakdown on Bad Debt

As 2011 is winding down, everyone, even Congress, is trying to check off their end-of-year to do list. On a federal level, that means extending the provisions that need to be extended and issuing last minute bills before adjourning for the session. That is the case with the recently introduced House legislation you may have seen in the media. While this is not predicted to pass the Senate, the bill includes a provision that could have a disastrous effect on every nursing facility in the country.

Medicare bad debt, a little-understood and little-discussed issue, is cropping up now that it is included in this legislation as a pay-for to help offset the cost of the doc fix. Bad debt is easily explained but not easily resolved, and may only become more difficult in the years ahead.

On its surface, bad debt is fairly simply. Take two sisters – Mildred and Ingrid. Let’s imagine each sister lives in a different state, and Mildred is on Medicare, while Ingrid is on both Medicare and Medicaid. Both fall at home and are admitted into the hospital and then discharged to a skilled nursing facility where they receive comprehensive rehabilitative care. Medicare covers the first 20 days of a SNF stay, but on the 21st day they are required to pay a copayment to the facility. Mildred, who is not covered by Medicaid, must pay this copay - $141.50 in 2011 – out of pocket. Ingrid is not responsible for her copay, as she is a Medicaid beneficiary.

Some Mark Parkinson with your coffee?

The early bird gets the worm - or in tomorrow morning’s case, gets to watch AHCA/NCAL President & CEO Mark Parkinson on CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange. Show starts at 4:00 am ET/3:00 am CT, but the governor’s appearance will be during the 5:00 – 6:00 am time slot. So, a little more time to sleep in.

Mark will be returning tomorrow as a guest host on the global business program, which provides in-depth coverage on issues that impact global investors. He’s expected to provide some of his personal business insight (from all those years owning and operating assisted living facilities) on topics such as the European debt crisis and the current state of the U.S. health care system. He’ll help interview guests, including CEO of Frontier Rare Earths James Kenny and 3M CEO George Buckley.

Hopefully, he’ll also get the opportunity to talk about how the long term and post-acute care profession is coping through this challenging economic and political time.

So, set that alarm clock… or if you really can’t get up that early, set your DVR! We’ll keep you posted on any clips that CNBC posts online as well.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Feeling the Pinch

Graphic by AHCA Public Affairs
As communities and providers feel the pinch of the tightening budget belt, The Moran Company released a study this week, echoing the fact that operating margins of nursing care centers are razor thin. The report emphasizes the concern advocates across the nation are raising about protecting seniors’ access to care.

The study, commissioned by the American Health Care Association to examine the potential, financial impact of changes to Medicare reimbursement policies, reiterated the fragility of the long term care industry.  The Moran Company, an external research and consulting firm, evaluated the operating margins of nursing facilities for most recent available data (FY 2009) and found that margins were at 0.75%.  This finding confirms the previously reported MedPAC data that margins for the industry are threateningly low.