Thursday, June 30, 2016

OCR Releases Resources for Proper MDS Use


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued new guidance to assist long term care facilities in complying with their civil rights responsibilities and obligations under regulations by the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The regulations require Medicare and/or Medicaid-certified facilities to ensure their residents receive services in an integrated setting.

OCR’s announcement states that in order to assess placement needs among residents, long term care facilities will routinely administer the Minimum Data Set (MDS) for all residents according to CMS regulation. Section Q of the MDS is designed to assess residents’ interests in returning to the community and to help staff identify and assist residents in exploring those opportunities with the support of Local Contact Agencies and other community-based organizations. As such, Section Q also assists the state in meeting its non-discrimination requirements.

Through analysis of MDS data and collecting information from a large sample of facilities, OCR found many long term care facilities are misinterpreting the requirements of the MDS or inadequately administering the MDS because they are not referring residents who are interested in living in the community to appropriate referral sources.

This new guidance provides a series of recommendations for steps that long term care facilities can take to ensure the MDS is properly used to facilitate compliance with Section 504 and to avoid discriminatory practices towards residents. These steps include:
  • Establish strong relationships with the Local Contact Agency, a local community organization responsible for providing counseling to nursing center residents on community support options; 
  • Properly administer Section Q of the MDS “to ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to learn about home and community based services and have an opportunity to receive long term care in the least restrictive setting possible;”
  • Update facility policies and procedures to comply with OCR guidance and provide periodic training to all staff involved in the MDS assessment on Section Q; and 
  • Review available resources on administration of the MDS. 

 To learn more, visit the HHS Office of Civil Rights and review the guidance document. 

The Quality Initiative: A Business Strategy for Success




Holly Harmon, RN, MBA,LNHA

The AHCA Quality Initiative is a business strategy for long-term and post-acute care. Its goals position members for success in a changing world where quality and payment are becoming one and patient and resident outcomes determine business success. The Initiative challenges member organizations to use systems-based performance improvement approaches to meet measurable targets in eight areas with a focus on three important priorities: improvements in organizational success, short-stay/post-acute care, and long-term/dementia care.

Members who work to achieve these goals now will be better positioned for success in upcoming Five-Star changes, the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act, and the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program.

Progress
On May 25, AHCA announced that half of its skilled nursing center members have reached or surpassed the nationwide goal in reducing antipsychotic usage by at least 30%, seven months ahead of the December 2016 deadline. As a result, the overall decline in antipsychotic use in AHCA member centers is 30.4%, which represents a faster rate of reduction than non-members at a 25%.

In addition to safely reducing the use of off-label antipsychotics, members have also made measurable improvements in several other priority areas. Click here for a snapshot of that progress.

Resources
AHCA has a number of resources to assist members with using the Quality Initiative as a business strategy for success. Key tools and resources include:

Baldrige Fact Sheet
Baldrige Overview Webinar
LTC Trend Tracker(SM)
And, a NEW 8-part webcast series on ahcancalED starting on July 27 (read more here) The Association commends its members for the measurable improvements seen to date. Keep up the quality improvement journey and be sure to share your story here!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Resident-Room Camera Survey Findings for AHCA/ NCAL

Clara Berridge PhD, MSW 

Researchers at Brown University have distributed an 8-question online survey to AHCA/NCAL members in order to learn about how facilities treat camera use in resident rooms and current use of in-room cameras. We’re learning the opinions of people who have direct knowledge of the issue. The survey is anonymous so it is not possible to know how representative our findings are; that is, we cannot say that these results represent facilities nationwide. Here’s what we are finding so far with 228 surveys complete (the survey is still open – you can take it at the link below).

One quarter of the respondents report that their facility allows family members to install cameras in resident rooms, while 16% of respondents had knowledge of at least one camera currently in use by a family member. More assisted living respondents than nursing center respondents report that they permit family members to use cameras, and they have more cameras: Forty percent of the assisted living respondents report current use, compared with 7% of nursing centers and 16% of facilities that are a combination of both. Half of the assisted living respondents report that they allow family members to install cameras. The vast majority (90%) of all respondent types have never had a facility-initiated camera. Notification, such as signage when a camera is in use in a room is required in only half of the facilities that reported allowing cameras or current use.

We also ask respondents to write in comments about concerns and advantages of resident-room cameras. Most people identify both concerns and advantages, though concerns are noted more often. The most common response voiced by 122 respondents is that cameras in resident rooms violate resident, roommate, staff and/or visitor privacy. The second most commonly expressed opinion (56 respondents) is that cameras would be helpful for investigating complaints and allegations. Many believe that this is the only appropriate use for cameras, though a number of respondents also worried that cameras will fuel improper litigation and misinterpretation of interactions. Less common, but insightful comments include the potential to undermine resident and staff dignity and trust, or to demoralize staff and make them want to work elsewhere. Also noted are the parallels of living on camera with institutionalization and difficulty making video feed secure. Others noted that family members would benefit from peace of mind and that awareness of being surveilled could deter theft or abuse. A number of respondents commented on how the facilities, rather than family, could use cameras, such as to monitor staff, explain falls, or make family members aware of resident behaviors.

The 2-minute, anonymous survey is still open to facilities representatives. You can contribute to our understanding of this issue by completing it here: Please take only one survey per facility.

Congressional Candidate Visits AHCA Member Facility

State Rep. Evans visits patient Mary Lawson 
Drew Thies 

State Rep. Dwight Evans of Philadelphia visited an AHCA member facility to meet with residents ahead of the November election. Evans recently secured the Democratic Party nomination for Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District.

The event took place at Genesis Powerback – City Center, which provides state-of-the-art post-acute rehabilitation and care for residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Pictured is Evans with one of the patients, Ms. Mary Lawson.

Evans secured the nomination in the reliably Democratic-leaning district after beating incumbent Representative Chaka Fattah. Rep. Fattah held the seat for 11 terms prior to his defeat, the first incumbent loss in the 2016 election cycle.

Evans, a native of Philadelphia, was first elected to the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in 1980 and became Democratic Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 1990. In 2010, Evans was named one of the ten most influential African-Americans in the city by the Philadelphia Tribune.

The event marks the beginning of a busy summer for AHCA/NCAL members, as lawmakers seek to visit patients and residents ahead of the November election. If you would like to host a facility or community tour for a Member of Congress, please contact Matt Smyth or Drew Thies

Top Priority of Millennials-- Jobs!

David Kyllo 

A new study from Albia found that the top priority of Millennials is job opportunities, which is the primary reason they join professional associations. The study found that priorities evolve depending on life stage, but that younger people focus mostly on jobs.

A great resource for Millennials and others interested in careers in the long term care and other health care professions is the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center. Job seekers can post their resume for free and get visibility through the Long Term Care Career Center’s network of more than 330 health care organizations and societies. The site also contains resources about resume writing and interviewing.

Employers who utilize the site also receive exposure through rotating job listings on AHCA’s home page – the web site where long term care professionals go for news and information. In addition to being connected to a national network, employers who post vacancies through the Center receive bonus rotating listings on the Long Term Care Career Center home page.

Rates for posting job vacancies are affordable and new users receive 25% off their first job posting simply by entering promo code New25off. Visit the LTC Career Center today and be seen across the nation.

IHI Announces SNF Trigger Tool Training

Institution for Health improvement 

Institution for Health Improvement (IHI) is offering a Virtual Expedition on Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Trigger Tool- Measuring Patient Harm in SNFs. In this virtual training, participants will learn how to efficiently use the IHI SNF Trigger Tool which can be used to identify patient harm and use their results to measure the effectiveness of safety improvements to reduce patient harm.

The first session of the Expedition is August 10. To learn more, visit the IHI website.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

NCAL Releases New Resource for Recruiting Staff

Lindsay B. Schwartz, Ph.D.

NCAL is pleased to announce a new resource to help members achieve the Quality Initiative staff stability goal, How to Recruit Assisted Living Staff. Staff stability starts with good recruiting practices. Members who have had success at recruiting and retaining excellent staff are sharing their secrets to success!

Ideas include: 
  •  thinking outside of the box when it comes to recruiting, 
  • offering incentives, 
  • career growth, 
  • on-the-job training, and 
  • building a presence in the larger community.
This resource could also be utilized in skilled nursing centers. 

CoreQ and LTC Trend Tracker

help@ltctrendtracker.com

Vendors can now upload their CoreQ data in LTC Trend Tracker! CoreQ is our new customer satisfaction measure that allows consistent measurement of satisfaction across all long term care settings and allows members to track their progress on our Quality Initiative customer satisfaction goal. CoreQ has been independently tested as a valid and reliable measure.

Ask your customer satisfaction vendor to add CoreQ to your resident and family satisfaction surveys. Once your vendor has uploaded your CoreQ data you can login to LTC Trend Tracker to benchmark your community to your peers.
If you have any questions, please email help@ltctrendtracker.com for assistance.

New 8-Part Quality Initiative Webcast Series: Succeeding in the Midst of Change





Marguerite McLaughlin

In July, ahcancalED will kick-off its new 8-part webcast series designed to assist members with using the Quality Initiative to achieve quality success in these changing times.

On July 27, Dr. David Gifford, AHCA Senior Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs and a board-certified geriatrician, will host the first in the series, Reducing Rehospitalizations: Practical Strategies for Success. Today, hospital readmissions impact payment, Five-Star ratings, your access to participation in preferred networks and your quality measures. In these changing times, you must have a low readmission rate to be competitive. The webcast will provide centers with strategies and tactics to reduce rehospitalizations.

For more information about the webcast and to register, click here.

Upcoming Dates:
  • July 27, 2016 - 1- Reducing Rehospitalization: Practical Strategies for Success
  • September 28, 2016 - 2 - Discharge to Community
  • November 16, 2016 - 3 - Unintended Healthcare Outcomes
  • January 25, 2017 - 4 - Staff Stability
  • April 26, 2017 - 5 - Antipsychotic Drug Reduction 
  • June 21, 2017 - 6 - Functional Outcomes
  • September 20, 2017 - 7 - Customer Satisfaction/Experience 
  • November 15, 2017 - 8 - Hospital Admissions in Long Stay Settings

2017 Independent Owner Leadership Conference- Call for Presentations

Christy Sharp 

The AHCA/NCAL2017 Independent Owner Leadership Conference is for independent owners (IOs) and not for profit operators of 10 or fewer long term care facilities. The conference can also serve as a national forum to share professional knowledge, insights, programs and ideas that enhance the long term care provider model.

AHCA/NCAL invites you to submit a conference proposal for consideration. Proposals should be geared toward individuals who own or operate 10 or fewer for profit or not for profit long term care facilities.
Proposals should be submitted by Wednesday, August 17 to ionfpconference@ahca.org

More information on the proposals can be found here.

DOL Updates Regulations Under FLSA

Lindsay B Schwartz 

Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) published updated regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new regulations revise the overtime exemptions for executive, administrative and professional employees, commonly known as the “white collar” exemptions.

AHCA/NCAL's legal consultant at Jackson Lewis has provided a memo outlining the changes. The memo includes information on changes to the "White Collar" exemptions, compliance with the Final Rule, DOL's non-enforcement policy, and CMS compliance with the payroll based journal.

The memo can be found on both AHCA's and NCAL's websites. Members will need their login information to access the memo. AHCA/NCAL has also posted a Jackson Lewis webinar and slides with an overview of the rule.

The full text of the final rule can be found here. The new regulations take effect on Dec. 1, 2016.

CMS Adopts 2012 Edition of NFPA, LSC and HCFC

On June 20, 2016, CMS issued S&C: 16-29-LSC. The memorandum notifies State Agencies and Regional Offices that CMS has adopted the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 2012 Life Safety Code (LSC) and 2012 Health Care Facilities Code (HCFC), effective July 5, 2016.

Buildings constructed before July 5, 2016 can meet existing occupancy requirements, as can buildings that receive design approval or building permits for construction before July 5. All other building construction must meet new occupancy requirements.

The final rule continues to allow CMS to waive specific provisions of the LSC, which would result in an unreasonable hardship upon a facility, providing that the waiver would not adversely affect the health and safety of the patients.

Additionally, the final rule continues to allow a state to request that its fire safety requirements be used in lieu of the 2012 edition of the LSC and HCFC with CMS.

Survey Process
The memorandum explains that CMS will begin surveying for compliance with 2012 LSC and 2012 HCFC on Nov. 1, 2016, allowing CMS to train surveyors, revise fire safety survey forms and update the ASPEN program. Surveyors will continue to use the current process, tags, and forms until then. In instances where the survey process identifies deficiencies that would be compliant under the 2012 LSC, a facility may verify compliance with the 2012 LSC as an acceptable plan of correction and the deficiency will not be cited.

CMS also notes that the LSC shortened survey process outlined in S&C Letter 13-22 will no longer be able to be used after Oct. 31, 2016, until CMS is able to analyze new data to determine which facilities will be able to be surveyed using the shortened survey process. According to the letter, any state that believes losing the shortened survey process for a period of time will cause it staffing and/or scheduling difficulty should contact their Regional Office. CMS will notify state Survey Agencies if the determination is made to use the LSC shortened survey process again.

You may send questions concerning the memorandum to SCG_LifeSafetyCode@cms.hhs.gov.

To view the 05042016 Fire Safety Requirements Final Rule, see Federal Register.

Monday, June 27, 2016

MedPAC Issues June Report


The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released its June 2016 Medicare and the Health Delivery System report to Congress. Included in the report is a chapter describing a unified cross-setting post-acute care (U-PAC) payment system.

The MedPAC report is the first of three PAC payment reform reports statutorily-mandated by the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014. The initial MedPAC report is intended to lay the foundation for more detailed work by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on the development of a unified PAC, cross-setting payment system.

In follow-up to the report, the DHHS is required respond to the June 2016 MedPAC document by 2020. A final proposal for a U-PAC payment system is due to Congress no later than 2023. MedPAC believes U-PAC could be implemented by 2025.

Highlights
In its comments to the Commissioners, MedPAC staff laid out the topics of the report, including:
  • Feasibility of a PAC PPS 
  • Impacts on payments 
  • Implementation issues 
  • Possible changes to regulatory requirements 
  • Companion policies to implement with PAC PPS 
  • Importance of monitoring provider responses 
  • Need to move toward episode-based payments 
Of note to Skilled Nursing Center (SNF) providers, the Commission research indicates an 8 percent shift in payments to SNFs from other PAC provider types. It also notes the three-day stay required for SNF service eligibility is an important protection to prevent inappropriate admissions. However, the Commission notes that in 2015, it recommended that up to two observation days might be counted towards the three-day stay. We are equally concerned about the notion of a third-party benefit manager.

A summary of the session is available here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

National Assisted Living Week Planning Guide and Product Catalog Now Available!

Katherine Preede

The National Assisted Living Week ® (NALW) Planning Guide and Product Catalog is now available to download at www.NALW.org. This year’s Planning Guide and Product catalog contains innovative activity ideas and exciting products to highlight this year’s theme, “Keep Connected” recognizing the increasing opportunity technology can offer to enhance the care and overall experience in assisted living communities.

Beginning on Grandparents Day, September 11, and extending throughout that week until the 17, National Assisted Living Week® will be celebrated in assisted living communities across the country. The 2016 theme, “Keep Connected,” encourages assisted living communities to support opportunities for residents to use the latest communication tools to engage with the world around them. The theme aims to help overcome the myth that seniors are not interested in using or do not have the ability to learn new technologies.

Download the NALW Planning Guide and Product Catalog and begin planning ways to nourish the minds, bodies and spirits of residents, staff and volunteers. As you plan your events for the week, don’t forget to share your plans with your local media and “like” the National Assisted Living Week® Facebook page!

Republicans Release Health Care Vision White Paper

Drew Thies


Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Republicans today released a long awaited white paper outlining how they would like to remodel health care delivery. The plan, titled A Better Way, is part of a comprehensive plan to frame Republican priorities ahead of the November election.


The plan includes many standard Republican health care proposals, such as repealing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, providing tax credits for individuals to buy coverage from private insurers, expanding access to health savings accounts, and turning Medicaid into a block-granted or per-capita cap system within the states.


The 37-page full document stops short of policy specifics such as the replacement for Obamacare or the size of the tax credits provided. It is not formal legislation and is seen more as a guiding document than a piece of discrete policy.

"The purpose of this agenda is to show a better way on the big issues of the day," Ryan told reporters.

The White House issued a statement early Wednesday denouncing the plan. The political consensus to pass many of the included provisions does not seem to exist in Washington during an already tumultuous election year.

AHCA/NCAL is carefully reviewing the plan and a broader analysis is forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

NOTICE Act Implementation

Dana Halvorson 

On Friday, June 17, some members of the national observation stays Coalition, including AHCA/NCAL, sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding how the agency will implement the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act).

The CMS proposed rules updating Medicare reimbursement to acute care hospitals included a section on the NOTICE Act for public comment. Effective August 6, 2016, the NOTICE Act requires that hospitals provide written and oral notice, within 36 hours, to patients who are in observation or other outpatient status for more than 24 hours. The members that signed the comment letter to CMS felt strongly that the notice must explain the reason that the patient is an outpatient, not an inpatient, and describe the implications of that status both for cost-sharing in the hospital and for “subsequent eligibility for coverage” in a Skilled Nursing Center.

As noted in previous communications, AHCA/NCAL supported the passage of the NOTICE Act on Capitol Hill, and feels that it is an important step forward. The NOTICE Act (P.L. 114-42) was signed into law on August 6, 2015.

Convention & Expo Early Bird Registration Deadline Quickly Approaching

Jon-Patrick Ewing 


The last day to register for the AHCA/NCAL 67th Annual Convention & Expo at the early bird rate is July 21, 2016. Join thousands of your long term and post-acute care colleagues in Nashville for this amazing event. AHCA/NCAL has four, jam-packed days of education, professional networking, speakers and exhibits—all guaranteed to keep you relevant in a dynamitic profession.

This year’s Gala Dinner & Show features three, award-winning country artist; Charlie Daniels, Jo Dee Messina and Phil Vassar. Performed in the spirit of the Grand Ole Opry, this is one event you don’t want to miss! Tickets tend to sell out, so be sure to get them when you register for the Convention & Expo. If you have already registered and want to purchase tickets, you can do so by logging into your registration package and modify your package to include them.

Online registration is easy and you get immediate confirmation. You can also make a convenient housing reservation at the same time.

June 2016 MedPAC Report and Three-Day Stay Requirement

Dana Halvorson 

On June 15, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its June 2016 Medicare and the Health Delivery System report to Congress. The report notes that the three-day stay required for Skilled Nursing Center service eligibility is an important protection to prevent inappropriate admissions. However, the Commission includes that in 2015, it recommended that up to two observation days might be counted towards the three-day stay.

For more information about observation stays and the three-day stay requirement, please visit the AHCA/NCAL website. An AHCA summary of the MedPAC session is available here.

If you have questions, suggestions, or concerns on the June MedPAC report, please contact AHCA’s Mike Cheek.

DOJ Settles with SNF Over Immigrant Discrimination

Dianne De La Mare

The DOJ has reached a settlement with a San Diego Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) over the federal government’s investigation and allegations of discrimination against work-authorized non-US citizens, which is in violation of the Immigration Nationality Act (INA).

According to DOJ’s press announcement, the SNF discriminated against lawful permanent residents by requiring them to produce specific documents to prove their work authorization, while allowing US citizens to show any valid work authorization documentation they choose. Under the settlement, the SNF will pay $24,000 in civil money penalties (CMPs), undergo DOJ-provided training on the anti-discrimination provisions of the INA and be subject to monitoring requirements.

HHS' Efforts to Stem Medicare Appeals Backlog Not Enough

Dianne De La Mare 

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report: Medicare Program: Continued Action Required to Address Weaknesses in Provider and Supplier Enrollment Controls, offering a bleak assessment of ongoing efforts to stem the mounting Medicare appeals backlog.

According to GAO, the “backlog shows no signs of abating as the number of incoming appeals to surpass adjudication capacity” at the end of the 3rd and 4th levels of the appeal.

Despite many interventions by Medicare officials, the number of appeals from health care providers and patients challenging denied claims continues to grow, which is only increasing the backlog of cases and delaying decisions well beyond the timeliness set out by the law.

OIG Releases Semiannual Report to Congress

Dianne De La Mare

The US Department of Health and OIG has recently published its Semiannual Report to Congress (Oct. 1, 2015-March 31, 2016), outlining the OIG’s operations during the first half of FY 2016. According to the report, OIG has recovered $2.77 billion in improper payments, including $554.7 million from audits and $2.2 billion from investigations.

The recoveries made during the first 6 months of FY 2016 are nearly $1 billion more than those made during the first half of FY 2015. Further, OIG has reported 363 actions and 428 criminal actions; charged 87 individuals or organizations; and recovered $115.8 million under the Medicare Fraud Strike Force investigations during the first half of FY 2016. Lastly, OIG announced that 1,662 individuals or entities were barred from participating in the federal health care programs during this reporting period.

CMS Offers Live Streaming and Recordings of SNF QRP Provider Training

Holly Harmon 

CMS announced they will offer live streaming of the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Quality Reporting Program (QRP) Provider Training held on June 21 and 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. Training session recordings will also be posted to the CMS YouTube site several weeks after the event.

If you are interested in viewing the event in real time, you can access the training via streaming media between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET on June 21, 2016, and between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on June 22, 2016.

The focus of this train-the-trainer event is to provide SNFs with an overview of the requirements under the IMPACT Act and the QRP including:
  • Information about the Quality Measures included in the SNF QRP; 
  • Guidance on coding the Minimum Data Set (MDS)--Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) to comply with the QRP requirements; and
  • Information on data submission and reporting aimed at helping providers use CMS tools to ensure providers are compliant with the submission requirements. 
The materials for the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Quality Reporting Program (QRP) Provider Training have been posted to the CMS website. The links to the presentations are located at the bottom of the page under Downloads.

If you are not able to attend the on-site training event, cannot view the streaming media session, are interested in being notified when the YouTube recordings of the presentations are posted and/or have questions related to the logistics of the training session, please send an email to PACTraining@econometricainc.com.

Friday, June 17, 2016

DOJ Appeals AseraCare Case

Dianne De La Mare 

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a notice that it is appealing a federal judge's order that dismissed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming that hospice provider, AseraCare, fraudulently billed Medicare millions of dollars for patients who were not really on the verge of dying (see here).

As you recall, the lower court judge struck down a $200 million False Claims Act (FCA) case against AseraCare, “holding that the government’s second guessing of physicians’ medical judgment alone cannot prove false claims.” Specifically, Judge Bowdre held that much of the evidence in the trial consisted merely of conflicting expert testimony about patient eligibility, and the federal government failed to prove its case, as “[a] mere difference of opinion between physicians, without more, is not enough to show falsity.” (US ex rel Paradies v AseraCare)

Medicare Benefit Integrity Contractor Activities

Dianne De La Mare

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), has published a report, Medicare Benefit Integrity Contractors’ Activities in 2012-2013: A Data Compendium, focusing on the Program Safeguard Contractor (PSC), Zone Program Integrity Contractor (ZPIC) and the National Benefit Integrity Medicare Drug Integrity Contractor (MEDIC). According to the report, some workload results, such as the number of proactive projects started and the number of revocations recommended for contractors increased overall from 2012-2013, while others, such as the number of cases referred to law enforcement, decreased.

While increases and decreases vary from year to year and may be caused by reasonable shifts in workload priorities, OIG believes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should examine these changes to ensure that they are in alignment with the agency’s integrity goals.

CMS concurs with OIG’s recommendation; however, to address workload variations, CMS is developing the Unified Case Management (UCM) system. The UCM system will serve as a central repository to track leads, monitor audit progress, and collect contractors’ workload in a unified manner. CMS will also provide guidance to align all Medicare contractors with clearly defined workload definitions.

OIG Releases Senior Medicare Patrol Project Data

Dianne De La Mare 

The US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG), has published a report, Performance Data for the Senior Medicare Patrol Projects, indicating that the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is expecting $2.5 million in Medicare recoveries (attributable to its projects) for 2015. The vast majority of those recoveries resulted from one project’s efforts, which led to the conviction of a hospice company owner for Medicare fraud.

Overall, 2015 Medicare recoveries increased by 282 percent from $660,829 in 2014. In 2015, the SMP also reported a total of $35,059 savings to beneficiaries. This was a 56 percent decrease from $80,228 in 2014. The majority of those savings were the result of one project’s efforts involving four separate beneficiary complaints pertaining to one provider. The provider had charged the beneficiaries for monthly treatments when Medicare actually covered those treatments.

The SMP project helped the beneficiaries obtain refunds from the provider. Finally, the SMP projects reported a total of $21,533 in cost avoidance on behalf of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. This is a substantial decrease of 89 percent from $200,598 in 2014.

OIG Releases 2016 Mid-Year Work Plan

Dianne De La Mare 

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), has published its Fiscal Year WorkPlan: Mid-Year Update, 2016, setting forth the various OIG department (Office of Audit Services, Office of Evaluation and Inspections, Office of Investigations, and Office of Counsel to the Inspector General) 2016 activities.
The work plan involves projects planned in each of HHS’ major entities including, but not limited to, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Administration on Aging. The work plan also lists the 2015 HHS top management and performance challenges including:
  •  protecting an expanding Medicaid program from fraud, waste and abuse;
  • fighting fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare Parts A and B;
  •     meaningful and secure exchange and use of electronic information and health information technology;
  •   administration of grants, contracts and financial and administrative management systems;
  •   ensuring appropriate use of prescription drugs;
  •   ensuring quality nursing home, hospice and home- and community-based care;
  •   implementing operating, and overseeing the health insurance marketplaces;
  •    reforming delivery and payment in health care programs;
  •    effectively operating public health and human services programs; and
  •    ensuring the safety of food, drugs and medical device
New and relevant action items under CMS that have been started since Oct. 2015 include, but are not limited to:
1.       Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System Requirements;
2.        National Background Checks for Long Term Care Employees;
3.       Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations of Medicare and Medicaid Eligible Nursing Home Residents for Urinary Tract Infections;
4.       Oversight and Effectiveness of Medicaid Waivers; and
5.       State Medicaid Fraud Control Unit FY 15 Annual Report.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Register for Convention Session on Implementing CMS Recommended Online Dementia Care Training

David Kyllo

Administrators, directors and nurses interested in quality dementia care are encouraged to register for a facilitated intensive training session led by national CARES® expert, Debbie Richman to learn how to implement the CMS- and AHCA/NCAL-recommended CARES® online training program within your organization. At the end of the training session, attendees will be eligible for individual Alzheimer’s Association essentiALZ certification.

This is a unique opportunity to complete the CARES® Dementia Basics curriculum and learn about the training tools, techniques, and activities to implement the CARES® Approach to care within your organization utilizing the CARES® Classroom Guide™ for Administrators and Educators. As an added bonus, attendees also will receive a complimentary copy of the CARES® Classroom Guide™ for Administrators and Educators (CARES® Dementia Basics version) – a $199.95 value.

The CARES® content includes video examples and interviews of real people living with dementia, their families, professional caregivers, and dementia experts (no actors). In addition, this session will offer unique networking opportunities to learn from your dementia care colleagues from across the nation.

The CARES®Dementia Basics Training will be held on Sunday, October 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is a separate ticketed event. The registration fee for this special intensive training is only $149.95.

Click here to register for the 67th annual AHCA/NCAL Convention and expo in Nashville.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

State Policy Solutions to Support the Needs of Seniors

Lilly Hummel

A recently released report summarizes state-based policy initiatives that provide solutions to support the needs of seniors. The report is based on meetings from the Reforming States Group, which is a bipartisan group of state health policy leaders, and provides examples of action-oriented programs to improve long-term services and supports, to address how the impending workforce shortage affects palliative care, for innovation technology, and for dementia care. The cited initiatives provide some creative policy suggestions to ensure that communities meet the needs of older adults.

Presidential Primary Season Comes to a Close

Photo courtesy Yahoo Finance News
Drew Thies

The last presidential primary was held Tuesday, June 14, in Washington, D.C., marking the end of the party nomination elections for the nation’s highest office.

The two presumptive nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, still must be officially confirmed as their party nominees, but delegate counts for both put them out of reach of their rivals.

Both parties will have nominating conventions in July—the Republicans will have theirs in Cleveland a week before the Democrats travel to Philadelphia.

As of this writing, Senator Bernie Sanders is still a declared candidate for the Democratic nomination. Many prominent news sources, however, have declared Secretary Clinton the presumptive nominee based on pledge delegates from primary elections and caucuses as well as so-called “super delegates,” party-designated voters who have declared their intention to support Clinton.

While the presidential primary elections have ended, there are still many Congressional primary elections yet to be held. Three incumbent Members of Congress have already lost their primaries, though one was due to a redistricting in North Carolina that forced two current Members of Congress to run against one another.

AHCA/NCAL will continue to monitor the election process and keep members updated on any important issues.

Webinar:Payroll-Based Journal Reporting: Staffing Strategies for Success

Adrienne Riaz-Khan

Date: July 13, 2016 – 2:00pm – 3:00pm (EDT)
Registration is now open: http://webinars.ahcancal.org/session.php?id=18122
Presenters: Peter Corless, EVP of Enterprise Development, OnShift, Inc.

The mandatory Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) reporting requirement to collect and electronically submit direct care hours starts July 1, 2016 – making daily staffing strategies critical to your success.
Join this webinar, exclusive to AHCA members, to learn the ins and outs of the PBJ requirements and walk away with staffing best practices to collect, review and submit the required information to CMS.

Objectives: After attending this webinar, attendees will be able to:
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the new PBJ requirements 
  • Find out what hours to count and what not to count 
  • Learn staffing best practices you should implement today to get ready 
REGISTER HERE!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Why wait, start now!


It’s never too early to get started on or continue your Quality Award journey. The Baldrige framework represents a tool for managing organizational performance, so centers who embrace the journey are working on it year-round; sometimes even without knowing it!

Outlined here are some steps that you can take today regardless of where you are in the journey.

New to Quality Awards?
  • Check out this short webinar to get an overview of the Baldrige Criteria.
  • Review the 2016 Bronze Quality Award application to get a sense of the questions that the 2017 Bronze application packet will contain.
  • Mark August 2nd on your calendar as the date that the 2017 application packets will be published on the Bronze Quality Award website.
  • Begin crafting your responses to the criteria; the program does not anticipate many changes from the 2016 to the 2017 criteria. Just be sure to appropriately update your application and follow the 2017 requirements once the application packet is published.
Bronze or Silver Recipient?
  • Review the 2016 Silver Quality Award application or the 2015-2016 Baldrige Healthcare Criteria to start evaluating the systems and process you need to have in place to write a successful application.
  • Mark August 2nd on your calendar as the date that the 2017 application packets will be published on the Silver or Gold Quality Award website.
  • Begin outlining your responses to the criteria. The program does not anticipate many changes to the Silver criteria in 2017, and Gold applicants will continue to respond directly to the 2015-2016 Healthcare Criteria. Just be sure to appropriately update your application and follow the 2017 requirements once the application packets are published.
As always, feel free to email any questions to Quality Award staff at qualityaward@ahca.org.

DOL Updates Sex Discrimination Regulations for Federal Contractors

Dana Halvorson

According to a June 14, 2016, news release from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), for the first time in 40 years, the agency is updating sex discrimination regulations and its “interpretation of Executive Order 11246 to reflect the current state of the law and the reality of a modern and diverse workforce.”

 The release goes on to include that, “The final rule updates OFCCP’s [the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s] sex discrimination regulations to make them consistent with current law. It makes explicit the protections against:
  • compensation discrimination; 
  • sexually hostile work environments;
  • discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions; and       
  • discrimination based on unlawful sex stereotypes, gender identity, and transgender status. 
The regulations also promote fair pay practices. The rule implements Executive Order 11246, which prohibits companies with federal contracts and subcontracts from discriminating in employment on the basis of sex.” The text of the Final Rule, which becomes effective on August 15, 2016, and a fact sheet on it can be found here.
 
As you know from previous correspondence, Medicare (Parts A and B) or Medicaid providers are not considered to be federal contractors. However, if a provider currently has VA patients and a VA contract, they are considered to be a federal contractor. AHCA has been advocating for VA Provider Agreements, which would help to ensure that our skilled nursing care centers are able to care for veterans in their communities.
 
Our centers already meet very strict compliance guidelines under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Adding additional regulations on top of this is simply inefficient, redundant and takes staff time away from these veterans at the bedside. AHCA continues to work with our Congressional champions on getting VA provider agreements across the finish line, and taking those with VA contracts out of the scope of being deemed a federal contractor.

Social Media Guidance for Providers


This week, AHCA/NCAL released a social media guidance document  that can help providers ensure that social media is used correctly in their centers.

The document combats social media misuse, which has become an issue in the U.S. Senate and across the country. Inappropriate use of social media in the long term and post-acute care realm can result in breaches of resident privacy, violations of personal-professional boundaries, legal issues and damage to the care center’s reputation. 

However, when used correctly, social media can be beneficial in the long term and post-acute care field. Providers use social media platforms to communicate with their residents, families and community, which can improve resident care. The document aims to make social media a useful tool for providers.

For more information about social media guidance, please contact Dianne De La Mare

Monday, June 13, 2016

Congressional Research Services Releases Report on Three-Day Stay Requirement

Dana Halvorson and James Michel 

On June 2, 2016, Congressional Research Services (CRS) released a 7-page report by Scott Talaga entitled, Medicare’s Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Three-Day Inpatient Stay Requirement: In Brief.  The report, among other things, provides a background on the issue and notes the interest of Congress on this matter.

AHCA/NCAL supports eliminating the three-day stay requirement and solving the related issue of observation stays. Increasingly, patients have no idea what their status is in a hospital, or the importance of it, which can lead to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket medical expenses should they need skilled nursing center care following their hospital stay. In addition to placing a financial burden on seniors and their families, this anomaly in Medicare rules can cause unnecessary spend-down, accelerating the time frame in which seniors will have to turn to programs such as Medicaid to pay for their care.

For more information about observation stays and the three-day stay requirement, visit the AHCA/NCAL website

New Online Tools Help Employers Estimate Health Care Law’s Effect on Taxes

Dave Kyllo

A new tax tip from the Internal Revenue Service announces the availability of two new electronic estimator tools for employers. The new tools come from the IRS’ Taxpayer Advocate Service

The Employer Shared Responsibility Provision Estimator helps employers understand how the provision works and how it may apply to an organization. Employers can use the estimator to determine their number of full-time employees, and to determine whether they might be considered by the IRS to be an applicable large employer. This estimator can also be used to compute an employer’s maximum potential liability for the employer shared responsibility payment.

The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Estimator helps employers determine if they might be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit and how much credit they might receive. This tool provides estimates for tax years 2014 and beyond. However, some figures used in determining the credit are indexed for inflation. Because of this, for future years, the estimator cannot provide a detailed estimate.

The IRS does caution users that the tools should only be used by employers as a guide for making decisions and not for accurate definitive calculations. Additional useful tax tips related to the Affordable Care Act will continue to be published by the IRS.   

Concerned about your employee health insurance costs? AHCA/NCAL members are saving money on their employee health benefit programs through AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions. One not-for-profit member is saving more than $2,100 annually per employee. AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions may be able to save you money too. For more information about health plan options available through AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions, contact Dave Kyllo at 202-898-6312 or Nick Cianci at (202-898-2841) or email us at ahcainsurancesolutions@ahca.org.    

CMS Updates Report on the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes

 Lyn Bentley, MSW


 On June 3, 2016, CMS issued S&C: 16-28-NH on the subject: Update Report on the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes. The Update Report provides a brief overview of the National Partnership, summarizes activities following the release of Survey & Certification policy memorandum 14-19-NH, and outlines next steps. The Report describes the results of the Focused Dementia Care Surveys conducted in FY2015 and the conclusions gathered based upon post-survey data analysis, covering the period of Calendar Year (CY) 2014 Quarter 2 through CY2015 Quarter 3.

CMS reports that since the start of the National Partnership in 2011 Quarter 4 there has been a decrease of 27 percent in the prevalence of antipsychotic medication use in long-stay nursing home residents, to a national prevalence of 17.4 percent in 2015 Quarter 3, and that success has varied by state. The CMS team, with input from its partners, established a new national goal of reducing the use of antipsychotic medications in long-stay residents by 25 percent by the end of 2015 and 30 percent by the end of 2016.

The Update Report highlights ongoing efforts to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications and create environments that support person-centered care for individuals living with dementia. These include:
  • sharing best practices among peers and stakeholders through State Coalition calls as well as MLN Connects calls;
  • awarding a Federal grant to use Federal CMP Funds to support National Partnership Goals; sharing tools and resources through websites including CMS’ National Partnership website and the Advancing Excellence website;
  • using both the long-stay and short-stay quality measures related to the incidence and prevalence of antipsychotic medication use for star rating calculation on the Five Star Quality Rating System;
  • tracking data trends in the national prevalence of antipsychotic medication use in long-stay residents; and
  • further assessing the survey and enforcement processes around dementia care.
According to the Update Report, CMS will continue to analyze data related to variation in enforcement activity; monitor potential consequences of reducing antipsychotic medication use; and conduct additional Focused Dementia Care Surveys across the country, targeting nursing homes that have high rates of antipsychotic medication use.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rep. Renacci Three-Day Stay Bill on House Hearing Agenda Today

Dana Halvorson

This afternoon, the U.S. Representatives House Subcommittee on Health will hold a Member day hearing. This hearing provides the opportunity for any Member of Congress to testify on health legislation that he or she has sponsored or cosponsored in the 114th Congress. Rep. Renacci (R-OH) will testify on his bill, the Creating Access to Rehabilitation for Every Senior (CARES) Act of 2015 (H.R. 290), which AHCA/NCAL supports. The CARES Act of 2015, which was first introduced in 2013, eliminates the three-day inpatient stay required for Medicare coverage of Part A skilled nursing care benefits by allowing centers that meet particular criteria to automatically qualify to waive the prior hospitalization requirement. The criteria are based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home Compare program. The bill would also require that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) study the cost of impact of this Act. AHCA/NCAL supports eliminating the three-day stay requirement and solving the related issue of observation stays. Rep. Renacci’s press release on his bill can be found here. For more information about observation stays and the three-day stay requirement, visit the AHCA/NCAL website

Listen to the Archived Webinar on the Functional Assessment Standardized Items (FASI)

Linsday Schwartz
Missed the webinar on the CMS Functional Assessment Standardized Items (FASI)? You can listen to the archived webinar to learn more about the FASI. The webinar included a brief overview of the Functional Assessment Standardized Items (FASI), which is part of the CMS Testing Experiencing and Functional Tools (TEFT) project. CMS will be testing this FASI, a revised version of the CARE tool, for use in home and community-based Medicaid waiver settings which includes assisted living. CMS will be evaluating the reliability and validity of the FASI and asking states to demonstrate their use of the FASI elements. CMS has requested comments on this project by July 1, 2016.

NCAL/AALNA Caring Together Quarterly Webinar June 21: The Nurses Role in Infection Control

Lindsay Schwartz
NCAL and AALNA are pleased to announce the Caring Together quarterly webinar speaker, Abimbola Ogundimu, DrPH, MPH, BSN, CIC, CPHQ, certified Infection Preventionist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP), Prevention and Response Branch. In this presentation, Dr. Ogundimu provides an overview of the changing populations in long-term care settings and an introduction to the problem of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in these settings. In addition, Dr. Ogundimu defines safe injection practices and provides examples of recent outbreaks in long-term care settings associated with unsafe injection practices. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, June 21 3:00pm - 4:00pm Eastern. Attendees must pre–register for this free webinar.

NPUAP Issues FAQ on Staging System Changes

Holly Harmon


The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) has issued a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the recent staging system changes. This contains useful information about the implications and key considerations of these changes.

For additional information on the  changes to the Pressure Ulcer Staging System check out the previous announcement.

Rural Health Care Access Legislation Passes Congress, On Way to Being Signed into Law

Dana Halvorson 
 
AHCA is in full support of the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 (S. 1916/ H.R. 4111). This legislation had proposed to amend the 1996 Telecommunications Act to permit eligible not for profit and public skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in rural areas to apply for support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP). The RHCP provides funding for eligible health care providers to expand and mitigate the high cost of broadband to facilitate and deliver health care services in rural areas and communities.

S. 1916/H.R. 4111 simply specify that SNFs be included in the definition of health care providers that are eligible to receive RHCP support. By Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interpretation, SNFs were not eligible to receive these funds as, we believe, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 intended. The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, which was included in the Toxic Substances Control Act conference report, passed in the full Senate last evening.

The conference report now heads to the president, who is expected to sign it into law. AHCA applauds the Congressional leaders in both chambers who made this passage possible. 

Nominate a Pioneer in Assisted Living

Rachel Reeves

Only days remain to recognize an extraordinary and visionary leader in the senior living profession. Nominations for NCAL’s 2016 Jan Thayer Pioneer Award close this Thursday, June 9. ​The award recognizes an individual who has moved the senior care profession forward, positively affecting the lives of those served and those who serve. Recipients must demonstrate dedication, leadership and considerable contributions to the senior care profession.

Nominations must be submitted online and include a 500-word or less essay, along with a copy of the candidate’s resume. Nominators must be members of AHCA/NCAL; however, candidates are not required to be members. The recipient is selected by the NCAL Executive Committee and will be honored at NCAL Day at the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo in Nashville this October.

The Jan Thayer Pioneer Award is posthumously named after the first Board Chair of NCAL Jan Thayer. A provider for more than 25 years, Thayer owned and operated Riverside Lodge in Grand Island, Nebraska. She also founded and headed up the Excel Development Group, which owned and managed retirement communities throughout the Midwest and employed hundreds.

This is the second year NCAL is honoring an individual in the assisted living profession. The inaugural award was bestowed to Howie Groff (pictured above) of Tealwood Senior Living last year.

Legislation Eliminating 3-Day Stay Featured in House Hearing

Dana Halvorson


A bill which seeks to alleviate the “3-day stay” barrier for Medicare reimbursement in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) will be part of the focus of a Congressional hearing held this afternoon.

The legislation, the Creating Access to Rehabilitation for Every Senior (CARES) Act of 2015 (H.R. 290), is sponsored by Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and creates a quality criteria which waives the currently mandated requirement for top-performing SNFs.

Rep. Renacci, a member of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Health—the committee which has broad jurisdiction over Medicare policy—will testify on his proposed legislation as a part of a “Member day” hearing, where Members of Congress are allowed to speak on behalf of their favored policies.

The legislation was first introduced by Rep. Renacci, a former SNF owner, as a way to ensure beneficiaries do not receive unanticipated medical expenses that are not covered by Medicare because they did not spend the required 3 days in a hospital inpatient setting before transitioning to skilled care.

SNFs increasingly serve a higher acuity population at a lower cost than a hospital setting, and often patients are discharged to a skilled setting much more rapidly than they were when the 3-day requirement was initially established.

Additionally, many patients can be placed on “observation” status in hospitals and incorrectly believe they retain their inpatient status, when they have actually been deemed outpatient. If a patient has outpatient status, their stay does not count toward the 3-day requirement, further adding to beneficiary confusion as to what constitutes as an appropriate length of hospital stay to qualify for Medicare coverage of a skilled stay.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living continues to support Rep. Renacci’s bill as a part of all efforts to reduce the barriers to Medicare coverage for beneficiaries in need of skilled care.

Are You Following Current CDC Recommendations for Pneumococcal Vaccination?

Holly  Harmon


On September 19, 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations pertaining to pneumococcal vaccination. These recommendations were updated on September 2015 and incorporated into the 2016 ACIP Adult Immunization Schedule. ACIP now recommends that adults aged 65 years and older receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13, Prevnar-13®) followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23, Pneumovax®23), twelve months apart. The full recommendations are available on the CDC website.

Surveyors are aware of these recommendations. Centers that are not following current recommendations have received deficiency citations already, particularly those centers whose immunization policy references that they follow the latest ACIP guidelines. We expect that CMS will provide communication on the impact these new ACIP guidelines have on the survey process in the near future. In the meantime, Centers should promptly incorporate Prevnar 13 (PCV-13) into their pneumococcal immunization program per CDC and ACIP recommendations. 


CDC Reports Legionnaires' disease on the Rise

Holly Harmon

A new CDC Vital Signs report: Legionnaires’ disease on the rise helps clinicians recognize and correctly diagnose Legionnaires' disease.  The latest report finds hotels, long-term care facilities, and hospitals are the most common places for disease outbreaks. 

Cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the US grew by nearly 4 times from 2000 through 2014. CDC investigations of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks show that about 9 in 10 were caused by problems that could have been prevented with more effective water management. Environmental assessments conducted as part of CDC investigations show that outbreaks of this disease are due to common problems, such as human errors like not properly cleaning a hot tub filter or changes in water quality caused by external factors like nearby construction. 

Explore CDC’s new Vital Signs on preventing this respiratory bacteria causing Legionnaires’ disease, including a toolkit for developing a Legionella water management program, infographic fact sheet, and more.

Got Qualified Employees?

Dave Kyllo

The AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center, can help members fill their health care job vacancies. 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. 

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.

Employers who utilize the site also receive superior exposure through rotating job listings on AHCA’s home page – the web site where long term care professionals go for news and information. In addition, employers who post vacancies through the center 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.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

2016 Bronze Quality Award Recipients Announced


Last week, AHCA/NCAL announced that 537 long term and post-acute care providers earned a 2016 Bronze - Commitment to Quality Award. The award is the first of three distinctions possible through the Association’s National Quality Award Program, which honors long term and post-acute care providers that have demonstrated their commitment to improving the quality of care for seniors and persons with disabilities.  This year’s recipients will be recognized at the Quality Award Ceremony during AHCA/NCAL’s 67th Annual Convention and Exposition in Nashville, Tennessee, October 16-19, 2016.  A full list of the recipients is available here

News coverage on this year’s Bronze National Quality Award recipients include:

The Cherokee County (GA) News-Advocate (6/6) reported “Oswego Health and Rehab has been recognized as a 2016 recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award for its dedication to improving the lives of residents through quality care.”

Business Wire (6/6) reported that “Sunrise Senior Living celebrates 66 of its communities that have been recognized as recipients of the 2016 Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).” 

The Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (6/3) reported that the West Hills Health and Rehab of Knoxville, TN, “is one of at least 17 Tennessee nursing homes given the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living’s ‘Bronze Award’ through its National Quality Award Program.”

The Grand Island (NE) Independent (6/4) reported that 24 Nebraska long-term and post-acute care providers were honored with the “2016 Bronze Commitment to Quality Award from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.” Nebraska Health Care Association CEO Heath Boddy said the Association is “proud of our members for their dedication to providing quality care for Nebraska’s nursing facilities and assisted living communities.”

WXEF-FM  Effingham, IL (6/4) reported the Evergreen Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Effingham, Illinois was also a recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award “for its dedication to improving the lives of residents through quality care.” Evergreen Administrator Josh Mathis called it an “honor to be recognized for the hard work and quality of care Evergreen provides every day.”

KSAT-TV San Antonio (6/7) reported that the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living awarded the 2016 Bronze Commitment to Quality Award to “six nursing homes from the San Antonio-area...for demonstrating their commitment to improving the quality of care for seniors and persons with disabilities.”

PRNewswire (6/8) reported that 12 of Genesis’ properties have earned the Bronze National Quality Award from the American Health Care Association.

The Fremont (NE) Tribune (6/9) reported Nye Legacy and Nye Square facilities were both recognized as a 2016 recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award.

El Paso (TX) Inc. (6/9) notes Trisun Care-Northeast El Paso was also a Bronze award recipient this year.

Marietta (GA) Daily Journal (6/11) reported A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab, a nonprofit nursing home in Marietta, Georgia, was recognized as a 2016 recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award.

The Weatherford (TX) Democrat (6/12) reported Peach Tree Place in Weatherford, Texas, was recognized as a 2016 recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award.

The Providence (RI) Business News (6/13) reported that Rhode Island Health Care Association announced that seven skilled nursing centers in the state have earned a Bronze Commitment to Quality Award through the American Health Care Association’s National Quality Award Program.

The St. Peter (MN) Herald (6/13) reported that “Benedictine Court, St. Peter has been recognized as a 2016 recipient of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award for its dedication to improving the lives of residents through quality care.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

AHCA/NCAL Advocates Hear from Top Congressional Leaders

Drew Thies

Over 450 post-acute and long term care advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. last week to hear from members of Congressional Leadership on both sides of the aisle, as a part of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living annual Congressional Briefing.

The speakers, Reps. Xavier Becerra, Kevin McCarty (pictured at left), and Greg Walden, represented the upper echelon of party leadership in the House of Representatives and spoke both of their personal experiences with the profession as well as how to make one’s voice heard in the halls of Congress.

Advocates first heard from Greg Walden, who spoke Monday evening. The chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Rep. Walden serves as the key strategist for Republicans in tight House races during a historic presidential election year. Rep. Walden’s comments about the political climate followed keynote speaker Chuck Todd, giving attendees a wide-ranging look at the upcoming election.

In addition to his responsibilities as NRCC Chair, Rep. Walden also serves on the Energy & Commerce Committee, which has broad authority over health care issues. Rep. Walden spoke passionately about his support of legislation ending the observation stays loophole, which denies patients post-acute Medicare coverage if their hospital stay was deemed “under observation.” He also spoke of work on opioid and mental health reform, in which he said long term care providers have a key part to play. 

The following morning, Rep. Xavier Becerra arrived at the conference and spoke to attendees shortly before many went to Capitol Hill to speak to their Representatives. Rep. Becerra is the Chair of the Democratic Caucus, making him the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House and the highest-ranking Latino member of either Chamber of Congress. Rep. Becerra is also a high-ranking member of the Ways & Means Committee, the powerful tax-writing committee with jurisdiction over Medicare policy.

Rep. Becerra emphasized to attendees the importance their voice has on Capitol Hill and urged advocates not to mince words with their Representatives. He told the group that they are the first defense against cuts to the safety net and that coming to Capitol Hill to speak with their Members of Congress shows that health care is more than a budget game. That cuts are harmful and affect patient care.

At the conclusion of the conference, AHCA/NCAL members heard from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the second-highest ranking Republican in the House, at a special lunch debriefing on Capitol Hill.

Leader McCarthy spoke about the necessity of preserving a positive business environment for providers at a time when thousands of Americans are approaching the age where they will need post-acute and long term care services more than ever. Drawing on his experience as a small business owner before he became a Member of Congress, Leader McCarthy said that both in politics and in business, it is the individuals who are willing to make the tough decisions who ultimately succeed. In this light, he praised AHCA/NCAL advocates for their willingness to present solutions to tough health care policy problems rather than simply trying to ignore them.

The next Congressional Briefing will take place in Washington, D.C. on June 5-6, 2017 in the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.