Wednesday, November 29, 2017

AALNA/NCAL Caring Together Webinar - Caring for Assisted Living Residents with Dementia: Non-Pharmacologic Interventions


December 5, 2017
3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern

Please join the American Assisted Living Nurses Association (AALNA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) on December 5th from 3-4:00pm Eastern, for the last webinar in the 2017 Caring Together series.

Almost 40% of assisted living residents have some type of dementia. For these individuals and as illness progresses, behavior often becomes a key form of communication. This can be challenging for families and staff, and too often, antipsychotic medication is used in an attempt to modify behavior.

The use of antipsychotic medication to treat behavior associated with dementia is not supported clinically and is considered off-label by the FDA, which issued a “black box” warning for the elderly with dementia. They increase the risk of death, falls and fractures, hospitalizations, and other complications resulting in poor health and high costs.

Hear from two dementia experts and assisted living providers who have had success decreasing off-label use of antipsychotics through non-pharmacologic interventions. Dementia care experts, Anna Fisher, Ph.D., DHA, CDP and Tanya Cloutier, RN, RCD will share their experiences and ideas for providing person-centered care for residents with dementia.

Please pre-register for the webinar here.

SNF QRP: Reminder to Register for Assessment-Based Measures Confidential Feedback Report Webinar

Holly Harmon

Skilled Nursing Facility Quality Reporting Program: Assessment-Based Measures Confidential Feedback Report Webinar

Date:   Wednesday, December 6th 2017
Time:   2:00PM ET - 3:00PM ET

CMS experts provide information on the Confidential Feedback Reports for the assessment-based measures adopted for the Skilled Nursing Facility Quality Reporting Program (SNF QRP). These reports will be made available to SNFs via providers’ Certification and Survey Provider Enhanced Reporting (CASPER) folders in the near future. CMS will present information on the assessment-based IMPACT Act measures included in the reports and direct participants to measure specifications.

CMS discusses the following items during this webinar:
  • Assessment-based IMPACT Act measures
  • Confidential feedback reports
  • Additional resources
  • Next steps
  • Questions & Answers
For more information, visit here

Get Your Smarter Nurses Here: Only Two Days Remaining on the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep Sale!

Dave Kyllo

AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep does much more than just prepare RNs to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) board certification exam in gerontological nursing. 
It increases experienced RNs’ knowledge of gerontological nursing practice. Gero Nurse Prep students see a whopping 24 percent average increase on their pre- and post-test scores. 

The statistics prove it.  Gero Nurse Prep grads know more about gerontological nursing. Taking the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep course does obligate a RN to sit for the ANCC Board certification exam.  All nurses (including LPNs/LVNs) who are interested in increasing their knowledge of gerontological nursing practice can simply complete the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep course and earn 30 CEUs.
  
AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is also designed to thoroughly prepare RNs to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) board certification exam in gerontological nursing.  It does that. RNs who complete the Gero Nurse Prep program have a passing rate of 96 percent on the ANCC exam on their first try. 

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. That means having an ANCC Board certified RN can easily give providers an edge in the marketplace. 

AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is on sale now through November 30 and each RN registrant can save $100 on his/her Gero Nurse Prep registration by entering promo code VBPRN17 (all caps) at checkout. That means RNs who are interested can become board certified for less than $1,000 ($590 sale price for AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep and a separate $395 to take the ANCC exam. 

Watch this video to learn more about AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep or click on the course preview to get a quick view of this engaging on-line curriculum designed to increase gerontological nursing knowledge and help RNs pass the ANCC exam. 

Increase your facility’s gerontological nursing competency. Take advantage of the $100 savings on Gero Nurse Prep before the sale ends Thursday and remember to enter promo code VBPRN17 at check out.   

The AHCA/NCAL LTC Career Center Features Amazing Career Opportunities, Tremendous Exposure for Employers and Great Employer Discounts

Dave Kyllo

The AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center helps employers fill their health care job vacancies. 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 national and state health care organizations and societies and more than 94,000 searchable resumes.   

The LTC Career Center features many of the best positions available in the long term care profession and is always free for job seekers. And, job seekers are using the site! Job postings on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center, average more than 1,400 views a month. 

As a leading employment information resource, the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center  has been fully integrated with Google’s new job search feature “Google for Jobs.” Our partnership with Google’s new initiative will deliver success for AHCA/NCAL members, job seekers and other related employers in the long term care industry

There are two great ways for skilled nursing center and assisted living employers to save on their job postings on the Long Term Care Career Center. First-time job posters can receive 25% off their first posting by entering promo code New25off when they check out.  Employers with multiple positions to fill can purchase three job postings at one time and receive a 20% discount on the three postings by entering promo code Bundle20 at check out. Employers who use the site are also able to post vacancies as they occur and search resumes on the network. 

In addition to receiving unique national exposure on a large health care job board network, 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.View this employer resource and see how easy it is to create an account on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center site.


Check out the prestigious employers and prestigious positions on the LTC Career Center today and take advantage of great savings by using either the New25off promo code to save 25% on your first job posting or the Bundle20 promo code to save on a package of three job postings.     

New CMS Antibiotic Stewardship Requirements Now in Effect for Nursing Facilities

Dave Kyllo

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) is ready to help members meet the new Infection Preventionist specialized training requirement finalized by CMS in the Reform of Requirements of Participation for Long Term Care Facilities. AHCA’s  Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) course provides education for healthcare professionals who seek to serve as Infection Preventionists and prepares individuals to meet the antibiotic stewardship requirements that took effect yesterday (November 28, 2017).   

Even though nursing facilities are not required to have a designated “Infection Preventionist” until November 2019, there are three compelling reasons why it is critical to register for this training now:

  • As of November 28, 2016 nursing facilities are being held accountable to more expansive infection prevention and control federal regulations. 
  • As of November 28, 2017, the federal requirements for nursing facilities expand further and require that every nursing facility develop and implement an antibiotic stewardship program. This is a new requirement that should be conducted with oversight from specially trained healthcare professionals. 
  • Surveyors nationwide are now trained to survey for the expanded infection prevention & control and antibiotic stewardship requirements. The survey process changed significantly beginning yesterday and it is critical that providers are prepared for their next survey.  


The course is an online, self-study program with 23 hours of training that meets the educational requirements outlined by CMS. It includes online lectures, case studies and interactive components taught by subject matter experts who have real life experience working in long term/post-acute care. 

AHCA’s course addresses both clinical and organizational systems, processes and cultural aspects of infection prevention and control that are fundamental to effectively leading and administering successful infection prevention and control programs and antibiotic stewardship programs.   Upon successful completion of this program, participants will receive certificates including 23 ANCC contact hours. 

The training course registration fee is $450 for AHCA/NCAL members and $650 for non-members.  There are no refunds and no transfers.  Payment and registration must be made online in ahcancalED. The IPCO course can be accessed here or at: https://educate.ahcancal.org/p/ipco

Discounted group purchase rates are available for groups of 25 or more.  Those interested in making a group purchase should email AHCA at educate@ahca.org

CMS Partially Delays Requirements of Participation Rule

Drew Thies

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a partial delay of Phase II of the Requirements of Participation (RoP) rule late last week. The Survey and Certification Group (S&C) at CMS issued two memos just after the Thanksgiving holiday delaying enforcement provisions of the rule, but were short of a complete delay.

The action will stall the use of civil monetary penalties, denial of payment for new admissions, and discretionary termination for 18 months while facilities are educated about the new requirements.

CMS stopped short of delaying the new survey process included in the rule. While providers will not have to deal with financial penalties associated with non-compliance, there is still a significant financial burden in complying with the new survey system.

The delay comes after two letters were sent to CMS from Capitol Hill, one from the House with 122 bipartisan signatories and a Senate version with 22 signatories.

The first memo, titled Temporary Enforcement Delays for Certain Phase 2 F-Tags and Changes to Nursing Home Compare, is available online here. The second memo, titled Preparation for Launch of New Long-Term Care Survey Process (LTCSP), is available online here.


AHCA continues to work with CMS and Administrator Seema Verma to make regulations more provider-friendly and less costly. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

CMS Updates 2018 Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule File - Therapy File Posted on AHCA Website

Dan Ciolek

Thanks again to the efforts of Tony Marshall, President and CEO of the Georgia Health Care Association; AHCA is able to offer members the 2018 therapy fees for each CPT/HCPCS Code in each geographic area on our website under the “Medicare Part B Fee Schedules” heading. Please note that the fees effective January 1, 2018 are calculated based upon the Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) and Other Revisions to Part B for Calendar Year (CY) 2018 Final Rule (CMS-1676-F) published in the Federal Register on November 15, 2017.

Background 
On November 15, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the CY 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule (CMS-1676-F) in the Federal Register.  This final rule reflects the requirements of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) which repealed the Sustainable Growth Rate formula. Further, the MACRA allowed for a one-half percent (0.5%) update from July 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015, a one-half percent (0.5%) update for CY 2016, and allows a one-half percent (0.5%) update for CY 2017. The MACRA provision extending the physician work geographic practice cost index (GPCI) floor of 1.0 through December 2017 ends for CY 2018. Additionally, as required by the ACA, the 1.5 work GPCI floor for Alaska and the 1.0 practice expense GPCI floor for frontier states are permanent, and therefore, applicable in CY 2018.

You may note that after all required adjustments, the conversion factor has increased from $35.8887 for CY 2017 to $35.9996 for CY 2017. However, Table 50 in the Final Rule titled CY 2018 PFS ESTIMATED IMPACT ON TOTAL ALLOWED CHARGES BY SPECIALTY indicates that, due to relative changes in the weights of various PFS procedure codes, the value of Part B physical and occupational therapy code payments in aggregate will decrease 2% in 2018.  AHCA anticipates that the impact will be less on SNF providers as most of the codes experiencing negative adjustments are not commonly used in SNF, while more commonly used codes such as neuromuscular reeducation (97112) and gait training (97116) saw increased values.     

The final rule continues the multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) policy for “always therapy” services.  The MPPR policy required, effective April 1, 2013, a 50 percent reduction to be applied to the practice expense component of payment for the second and subsequent “always therapy” service(s) that are furnished to a single patient by a single provider on one date of service (including services furnished in different sessions or in different therapy disciplines). The MPPR worksheet lists those “always therapy” services subject to the MPPR policy and the reduced fee payment amounts.

Further, the final rule updates the Medicare Part B therapy CPT code list for CY 2018 by modifying the descriptors for two CPT codes (97760 and 97761), adding one new “always therapy” code (97763) and one new “sometimes therapy” code (G0515), and deleting one code (97762). Please see Transmittal 3924/Change Request 10303 and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) MLN Matters article MM10303 for complete information on the 2018 Annual Update to the Therapy Code List.

While not impacting fee schedule pricing, the final rule also announced that the Medicare Part B outpatient therapy cap amounts are updated  (Transmittal 3918/Change Request 10341 and MLN Matters MM10341)  and are $2,010 for occupational therapy and $2,010 for physical therapy and speech-language pathology services combined for CY 2018. The MACRA provision extending the therapy cap exceptions process expires December 31, 2017; therefore, this final rule notes the caps will be enforced without exception at the new $2,010 threshold in CY 2018 unless Congress takes action before then.

Finally, supporting documentation and downloads for Regulation #CMS-1676-F may be found here. An overview of the Physician Fee Schedule Payment Policies may be found here and an overview of skilled nursing facility consolidated billing and annual updates may be found here.

The AHCA 2018 Medicare Part B therapy fee schedule file includes five tabs containing the following information:

  1. The 2018 Medicare Part B Fee Schedule for Outpatient Rehabilitation for each Carrier and Locality (Part B Fees)
  2. The 2018 Medicare Part B MPPR Fee Schedule for "Always Therapy Services (50% MPPR Factor) for each Carrier and Locality (MPPR Fees)
  3. The 2018 Relative Value Units for each Outpatient Rehabilitation Therapy Code (RVUs)
  4. The 2018 Geographic Practice Cost Indices by Medicare Carrier and Locality (GPCI)
  5. The 2018 Counties Included in 2018 Localities (GPCI Counties) (Same as 2017)


The Part B Fee Schedule amounts are calculated as follows:
        ((A1 x B1) + (A2 x B2) + (A3 x B3)) x Conversion Factor (Part B Fees), and

        ((A1 x B1) + ((A2 x B2) x (1-MPPR Factor) + (A3 x B3)) x Conversion Factor (MPPR Part B Fees), where:

        A1 = Physician Work RVU
        A2 = Non-Facility Practice Expense RVU
        A3 = Malpractice RVU
        B1 = Work GPCI
        B2 = Practice Expense GPCI
        B3 = Malpractice GPCI

        Conversion Factor = $35.9996

        MPPR Factor = 50%

Most Employers Must Electronically Report Injury and Illness Data by December 15, 2017

Lilly Hummel

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a notice extending the  date by which most employers must electronically report injury and illness data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) to December 15, 2017. This rule requires certain employers electronically submit injury and illness information they are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations. However, the notice lists 11 states that do not yet require their employers to submit these reports electronically. OSHA is currently reviewing the other provisions of its final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, and intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to reconsider, revise, or remove portions of that rule in 2018.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Excel in 2018: Register for the Third Annual Quality Summit


Start the year off right by attending the 3rd Annual AHCA/NCAL Quality Summit: Where Excellence Has No Limits! 

Held March 12-14 in New Orleans, Louisiana, this event promises to deliver highly focused and interactive education sessions, plenty of great speakers, and many networking opportunities.

You'll enjoy a variety of short LED Talks, general education sessions, networking events and more. This year’s Opening General Session will focus on tackling the NEW Survey Process—a session not to be missed! 

Register now, and check one thing of your holiday “to do” list. The housing deadline for discounted rates is February 9, 2018
Advance registration for the Quality Summit ends March 2, 2018.
The Quality Summit is sponsored by Medline (host sponsor) and Genesis Rehab Services (contributing sponsor).

Deadline Approaching: Apply to be a 2018 National Quality Award Examiner

Meghan Karstetter

It's your last chance to apply to serve as a 2018 National Quality Award Examiner! 

AHCA/NCAL is seeking volunteer Examiners for the 2018 AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award program. The program, based on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Criteria, provides AHCA/NCAL member centers a pathway on their journey towards performance excellence.

The deadline to apply is this Thursday, November 30, 2017.

Serving as an Examiner is an incredible opportunity for professionals interested in continuous quality improvement. Examiners receive in-depth training on the Baldrige criteria at the expense of AHCA/NCAL. Examiners can use this knowledge to enhance their own professional skills, and apply it to their own organizations. 

Being an Examiner also an excellent networking opportunity; Examiners gain professional contacts throughout the country and make life-long friendships through the program. 

For more information and to submit an application, apply here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K9WP75B.  

Further questions may be submitted to qualityaward@ahca.org.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Long Term Care and the Law Program February 28-March 2, 2018

Lilly Hummel

Register to attend the Long Term Care and the Law program February 28-March 2, 2018 in New Orleans, LA. This program is an exciting and informative meeting where some of the leading in-house and outside lawyers for the long term care industry will be presenting on legal, compliance, and operational issues faced by providers. The morning of February 28, the National Center for Assisted Living will host a round table open to all assisted living in-house counsel; this year the event will focus on emergency preparedness. The American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) offers CLE, CPE, NHA, and CCB credits for the conference. AHCA and NCAL members receive the AHLA member discounted rate of $865. Don’t miss this excellent educational opportunity.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

House Passes Tax Reform; Senate Version Keeps Medical Deduction


The House passed sweeping tax overhaul legislation Thursday, shifting efforts to the Senate. The Senate’s tax bill differs significantly from the House version in numerous ways, including the medical expenses deduction, which remains intact in the Senate version.

The House passed the bill with 227 votes. Thirteen Republicans and all Democrats voted against the legislation. On the same day, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance voted along party lines to advance a markedly different version of tax reform that includes a partial repeal of the individual mandate included in the 2010 health care law but does not touch the medical expense deduction.

AHCA/NCAL issued a press release last week opposing the elimination of the medical expense deduction, which many long term care patients use to offset the financial burden of receiving uncompensated long term or post-acute care.

The Senate version differs primarily because of procedural rules surrounding the budget reconciliation process. In order to avoid a Democratic filibuster, Senate Republicans are using the reconciliation process to pass legislation with a simple 50-vote majority. The process, however, ties lawmakers’ hands on issues of deficit spending, meaning the Senate bill necessarily must have more offsets or fewer revenue cuts than the House version in order for it to come to the floor.

In addition to procedural hurdles, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report indicating that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would be forced to cut Medicare if tax legislation creates too much deficit spending. OMB would be forced to cut Medicare spending by $25 billion, or four percent of total spending. The House version of tax legislation is projected to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion, according to the CBO.

AHCA/NCAL will continue to monitor the tax reform effort insofar as it affects its members and the patients they serve.

Depression and the Holiday Blues: December 13 Twitter Chat


Save the Date! On Wednesday, December 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern, join Provider Magazine for a Twitter chat to talk about a topic on several minds this holiday season. 

Experts from Signature HealthCARE and TEAMHealth will share tips on staying connected with loved ones in care centers as well as what they do to manage depression and keep the holiday blues at bay.

Follow the chat via #ProviderChats.

New RoP Regulations Three Part Webinar Series Available Now for CEOs/Owners


AHCA member CEOs and owners can now register for a new webinar training series available, “What a CEO Needs to Know about the New Regulations”. 

Click here to register and get access to helpful videos, presentation handouts, and additional resources regarding the new regulations for the Requirements of Participation (RoP) taking effect next week.

This three part series, which is designed for CEO/ Owners only, is presented by Dr. David Gifford, Senior VP of Quality & Regulatory Affairs for AHCA/NCAL. The series will break down what an owner or CEO needs to know about the new RoP regulations, and will cover the following:
  • Part 1: Overview and key themes in the new regulations
  • Part 2: Overview of the new survey process that goes into effect in November 2017
  • Part 3: Key questions you want to ask your management to make sure your organization is ready for the new regulations.
This content is an exclusive member benefit, free to members. Please be sure to login to ahcancalED with your AHCA username and password in order to receive access to the series. If you need additional assistance, please email educate@ahca.org.

Members can also access RoP resources on AHCA's website here.

Gero Nurse Prep Bolsters RNs’ Knowledge of Gerontological Nursing

AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is designed to prepare RNs to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) board certification exam in gerontological nursing. RNs who complete the Gero Nurse Prep program have a passing rate of 96 percent on the ANCC exam on their first try and they also receive 30 CEUs. 

But AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep does much more. It increases experienced RNs’ knowledge of gerontological nursing practice. Gero Nurse Prep students see a whopping 24 percent average increase on their pre- and post-test scores. 

The statistics prove it. Gero Nurse Prep grads know more about gerontological nursing.  Taking the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep course does obligate a RN to sit for the ANCC Board certification exam. Nurses who only want to increase their knowledge of gerontological nursing practice can simply take the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep course and earn 30 CEUs.
  
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. That means having an ANCC Board certified RN can easily give providers an edge in the marketplace. 

AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is on sale now through November 30 and each RN registrant can save $100 on his/her Gero Nurse Prep registration by entering promo code VBPRN17 (all caps) at checkout. RNs who are interested can become board certified for less than $1,000 ($590 sale price for AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep and a separate $395 to take the ANCC exam.  

Watch this video to learn more about AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep or click on the course preview to get a quick view of this engaging online curriculum designed to increase gerontological nursing knowledge and help RNs pass the ANCC exam. 
Increase your facility’s gerontological nursing competency. Take advantage of the $100 savings on Gero Nurse Prep before the sale ends next week and remember to enter promo code VBPRN17 at check out.  

Only Six Days Left Before New Antibiotic Stewardship Requirements Take Effect for Nursing Facilities


AHCA is ready to help members meet the new Infection Preventionist specialized training requirement finalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Reform of Requirements of Participation for Long Term Care Facilities.

AHCA’s  Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) course provides education for healthcare professionals who seek to serve as Infection Preventionists and prepares individuals to meet the antibiotic stewardship requirements taking effect in November
  
Even though nursing facilities are not required to have a designated “Infection Preventionist” until November 2019, there are three compelling reasons why it is critical to register for this training now:
  • As of November 28, 2016 nursing facilities are being held accountable to more expansive infection prevention and control federal regulations. 
  • Beginning November 28, 2017, the federal requirements for nursing facilities expand further and require that every nursing facility develop and implement an antibiotic stewardship program. This is a new requirement that should be conducted with oversight from specially trained healthcare professionals.
  • Surveyors nationwide were recently trained to survey for the expanded infection prevention & control and antibiotic stewardship requirements. The survey process will be significantly different beginning on November 28.  

The course is an online, self-study program with 23 hours of training that meets the educational requirements outlined by CMS. It includes online lectures, case studies and interactive components taught by subject matter experts who have real life experience working in long term/post-acute care. 

AHCA’s course addresses both clinical and organizational systems, processes and cultural aspects of infection prevention and control that are fundamental to effectively leading and administering successful infection prevention and control programs and antibiotic stewardship programs. Upon successful completion of this program, participants will receive certificates including 23 ANCC contact hours. 

The training course registration fee is $450 for AHCA/NCAL members and $650 for non-members. There are no refunds and no transfers. Payment and registration must be made online in ahcancalED. The IPCO course can be accessed here or at: https://educate.ahcancal.org/p/ipco.   

Discounted group purchase rates are available for groups of 25 or more. Those interested in making a group purchase should email AHCA at educate@ahca.org.   

To access ahcancalED and the IPCO course, members will need to login with their AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords.  For assistance obtaining AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords, please e-mail update@ahca.org with your name and facility contact information. 


Join The Conversation: United Against the Flu Twitter Chat

Flu season has arrived.
Join the conversation next month and hold the below time for this year’s United Against the Flu Twitter Chat. Be prepared to use the hashtag, #UnitedAgainstFlu to help highlight the need for your patients and residents to get a flu shot.
Monday, December 4 from 11:00 – 12:00 ET
Guest Expert: Dr. Jay Bhatt

AHCA will update members with additional information on the Twitter chat as it becomes available. In the interim, members are encouraged to do the following to help spread the word about flu prevention:
  • Visit the American Hospital Association's landing page to find information and toolkits for long term care employers.
  • Follow @CDCFlu on Twitter and use the hashtag, #UnitedAgainstFlu in your social posts.
You can find also find infographics and other helpful resources, including the CDC's flu shot finder tool, on the United Against the Flu webpage
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, (CDC), United Against the Flu is a collaborative effort by several national health care organizations in partnership with the CDC to amplify the importance of getting vaccinated, especially this flu season.
The CDC reports that approximately 310,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in 2015, and more than 25 million were affected by flu-related illnesses In addition to symptoms including sore throat, aches and fever, the flu can lead to serious health complications such as pneumonia.

Deadline Approaching: 69th Annual Convention & Expo: Call for Presentations

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Event Details

Name: 2018 AHCA/NCAL 69th Annual Convention
Location: The San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California
Date: October 7–10, 2018
Website: Click here

Organizers

Call for Presentations: Teresa Eyet (teyet@ahca.org); Phone: (202) 898-2837
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AHCA/NCAL will hold its 69th Annual Convention and Expo at The San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA from Oct. 7-10, 2018.

The 2018 Convention Call for Presentations deadline is November 30th.

Now is your chance to share ideas that reflect your success stories and professional insight, as well as ideas and programs that enhance the long term and post-acute care service delivery. 

We are particularly interested in proposals that reflect and will help support providers in achieving the AHCA Quality Initiative goals and the Quality Initiative for Assisted Living. Also important are the Requirements of Participation 

If you are interested in submitting a session proposal please visit the convention website, select the Call for Presentations icon and follow the instructions to complete your submission. No submissions will be accepted after November 30th

Updates on Three Cases Against Nursing Centers


The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a motion to drop a False Claims Act lawsuit it had joined against HCR ManorCare in 2015. The whistleblower lawsuit had asserted that the provider submitted false claims for levels of rehabilitation services that weren't medically necessary in order to boost its reimbursements. Last month the judge struck an expert witness’ testimony and ordered DOJ to pay HCR ManorCare’s legal fees.

Four San Diego-area nursing centers owned by Brius Management Co. have agreed to pay up to $6.9 million to resolve civil allegations that their employees paid kickbacks to hospital discharge planners for patient referrals and submitted fraudulent bills to the government. In the Deferred Prosecution Agreements, the four nursing centers admitted that their employees conspired to pay kickbacks without the knowledge of the management company. 

The nursing centers have entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General (OIG) as part of the settlement to resolve the whistleblower case. The hospitals also agreed to pay up to $4.9 million if certain operational contingencies are met.

The DOJ has announced that Hyperion Foundation and its former President, AltaCare Corporation and its Chief Executive Officer, Long Term Care Services Inc., and Sentry Healthcare Acquirors Inc. have agreed to pay $1.25 million to resolve allegations brought by a whistleblower. The government alleged that from October 2005 to May 2012, Hyperion made claims to Medicare and Medicaid for providing effectively worthless services to residents at the Oxford Health and Rehabilitation nursing center, which was managed by AltaCare.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November is a Big Month for Antibiotics


November 13-19 marks U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week and World Antibiotic Awareness Week. November 28 marks the first day nursing facilities will be surveyed under new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) antibiotic stewardship program guidelines. 

AHCA is ready to help members meet the new Infection Preventionist specialized training requirement finalized by CMS in the Reform of Requirements of Participation for Long Term Care Facilities. AHCA’s Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) course provides education for healthcare professionals who seek to serve as Infection Preventionists and prepares individuals to meet the antibiotic stewardship requirements taking effect in less than two weeks.     

Even though nursing facilities are not required to have a designated “Infection Preventionist” until November 2019, there are three compelling reasons why it is critical to register for this training now:
  • As of November 28, 2016 nursing facilities are being held accountable to more expansive infection prevention and control federal regulations. 
  • Beginning November 28, 2017, the federal requirements for nursing facilities expand further and require that every nursing facility develop and implement an antibiotic stewardship program. This is a new requirement that should be conducted with oversight from specially trained healthcare professionals. 
  • Surveyors nationwide were recently trained to survey for the expanded infection prevention & control and antibiotic stewardship requirements. The survey process will be significantly different beginning on November 28.  

The course is an online, self-study program with 23 hours of training that meets the educational requirements outlined by CMS. It includes online lectures, case studies and interactive components taught by subject matter experts who have real life experience working in long term/post-acute care.  

AHCA’s course addresses both clinical and organizational systems, processes and cultural aspects of infection prevention and control that are fundamental to effectively leading and administering successful infection prevention and control programs and antibiotic stewardship programs. Upon successful completion of this program, participants will receive certificates including 23 ANCC contact hours. 

The training course registration fee is $450 for AHCA/NCAL members and $650 for non-members. There are no refunds and no transfers.Payment and registration must be made online in ahcancalED

The IPCO course can be accessed here or at: https://educate.ahcancal.org/p/ipco.   

Discounted group purchase rates are available for groups of 25 or more.Those interested in making a group purchase should email AHCA at educate@ahca.org.

To access ahcancalED and the IPCO course, members will need to login with their AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords. For assistance obtaining AHCA/NCAL usernames and passwords, please e-mail update@ahca.org with your name and facility contact information.  

New Emergency Preparedness Rules Take Effect Today! Make Sure You’re Ready.


Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs/NFs) and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID) face new sweeping regulations affecting their emergency preparedness planning beginning on November 15. These requirements include:Annual 
  • Risk Assessment and Emergency Planning
  • Communication Plan
  • Emergency Preparedness Policies and Procedures (must be reviewed annually)
  • Training and Testing

·    AHCA/NCAL is pleased to offer a new tool titled “Emergency Preparedness Program (EPP) Customizable Plan for Long Term Care” that allows facilities to customize compliant plans, including:
  • Emergency Preparedness Program Management Plan
  • Communications Plan
  • Procedures applicable to all hazard responses
  • Incident Command System 
  • Full building Evacuation Plan
  • Emergency Lists
  • Continuity of Operations and Recovery Plan.

AHCA/NCAL members receive exclusive “member only” pricing of $395 for the EPP customizable plan – a savings of $100 off the regular price. The EPP plan from Russell Phillips & Associates includes:
  • An electronic flash drive – Easily add your facility’s information to customize your plan.
  • Hard copy of the documents – Provides hard copy worksheet-style documents of your plan. 
  • Binder with tabs prepared for insertion of customized plan – An invaluable resource that organizes your plan documents.  
  • A crosswalk between the new CMS regulations and the customizable EPP plan manual – This indispensable tool provides a clear-cut detailed comparison that shows how your facility’s EPP plan meets CMS requirements and demonstrates precise compliance to survey agencies and AHJs.  
  • Access to an information-packed 75-minute “how to” webinar conducted by Russell Phillips & Associates.

Be ready for your next survey. Order the customizable EPP plan today through the AHCA/NCAL Bookstore and save $100 off the regular $495 price.   

Bolster Your RNs’ Geriatric Nursing Skills to Reduce Rehospitalizations! Take Advantage of the Gero Nurse Prep Sale


AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is on sale now through November 30th and each RN registrant can save $100 off his/her Gero Nurse Prep by entering promo code VBPRN17 (all caps) at checkout. That means RNs who are interested can become board certified for less than $1,000 ($590 sale price for AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep and a separate $395 to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center {ANCC} exam). 

Hospitals are keeping a close watch on their Medicare beneficiaries to ensure that they are not readmitted within 30 days of discharge, including those hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries who live in skilled nursing and assisted living settings. Well trained RNs can play a critical role in reducing re-hospitalizations. 

Hospitals face having Medicare reimbursements withheld if their re-hospitalization rates are too high. In October 2018, SNFs also will face financial consequences if their rehospitalization rates are too high. Managing rehospitalization rates has become a key part of a successful long term care business strategy in caring for the elderly in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
  
Research conducted by AHCA/NCAL in 2016 found that the rehospitalization rates in nursing facilities with at least one RN certified in gerontological nursing by the ANCC consistently have run at least two percentage points lower than the national average since 2011. AHCA/NCAL believes that assisted living settings may experience similar results by increasing their RNs’ gerontological expertise. 

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 ANCC board certified in gerontological nursing. 

To help increase the number of board certified RNs, AHCA/NCAL’s Gero Nurse Prep program is designed to help RNs prepare for and pass the ANCC gerontological certification exam. RNs who complete the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep program have a passing rate of 96 percent on the ANCC exam and receive 30 CEUs. They also increase their knowledge of gerontological nursing by 20 percent on pre- and post-test scores.

Watch this video to learn more about AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep or click on the course preview to get a quick view of this engaging online curriculum designed to help RNs pass the ANCC exam.
Outshine your competition by demonstrating your ability to reduce re-hospitalizations.Take advantage of the sale on Gero Nurse Prep and remember to enter promo code VBPRN17 at check out.   

The Number of Open LTC Jobs Dips in November


There are 18,688 open jobs posted by direct employers in the nursing care facility (including skilled nursing facilities - SNFs), assisted living, and continuing care retirement community (CCRC) sectors this month, according to the latest CEB TalentNeuron statistics. That is more than 1,400 fewer posted long term care (LTC) positions than October. 

The CEB TalentNeuron statistics also show an estimated 2,101,000 potential candidates in the nation’s workforce whose skills likely match the qualifications being sought by long term care employers. Figures show that 1,769 direct employers are competing for candidates this month – nearly the same number as last month. The average number of days a job was posted this month decreased by two days to 35 days.   

Finding qualified employees is one of the greatest challenges facing long term care providers. The AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center is designed to help members be competitive in attracting qualified candidates to fill their health care job vacancies. The LTC Career Center is also fully integrated with Google’s new job search feature, “Google for Jobs”, creating even greater exposure for job postings.

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 national and state health care organizations and societies. Employers are also able to post vacancies as they occur and search resumes on the network. 

There are two great ways for skilled nursing center and assisted living employers to save on their job postings on the Long Term Care Career Center. First-time job posters can receive 25 percent off their first posting by entering promo code New25off when they check out.  Employers with multiple positions to fill can purchase three job postings at one time and receive a 20 percent discount on the three postings by entering promo code Bundle20 at check out. 

Employers who utilize the site also receive outstanding exposure through rotating job listings on AHCA’s home page – the website 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. 

Of course, the LTC Career Center is always free for job seekers and the LTC Career Center features many of the best positions the long term care profession has to offer. Job seekers are using the site with more than 93,000 searchable resumes on the National Healthcare Career Network this month. Job postings on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center network are averaging more than 1,400 views in November.

Join the growing list of high profile employers who use AHCA/NCAL’s premier member resource to find top talent. Check out the LTC Career Center today and remember to use one of the two promo codes to save on your job postings.      

Medicare Part B Therapy Cap Threshold Set at $2,010 for Calendar Year 2018


Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Medicare Learning Network (MLN) Matters article number MM10341 announcing the Medicare Part B outpatient therapy cap values for calendar year (CY) 2018.

The article notes that the annual per-beneficiary benefit limits for physical therapy and speech-language pathology services combined (PT/SLP) is $2,010, while occupational therapy services have a separate $2,010 cap.

While there is currently activity in Congress to repeal the therapy caps before the end of the year, there is no guarantee it will occur. Providers should prepare and make sure that therapy and billing staff are aware of these therapy cap value updates.

Background

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997, P.L. 105-33, Section 4541(c) applies, per beneficiary, annual financial limitations on expenses considered incurred for outpatient therapy services under Medicare Part B, commonly referred to as “therapy caps.” The therapy caps are updated each year based on the Medicare Economic Index. Section 5107 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 required an exceptions process to the therapy caps for reasonable and medically necessary services. The exceptions process for the therapy caps has been continuously extended several times through subsequent legislation. Most recently, Section 202 of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) extended the therapy caps exceptions process through December 31, 2017.

Webinar: Interdisciplinary Care Teams for Older Adults

December 7, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM EST

Register for the webinar on Interdisciplinary Care Teams for Older Adults organized by CMS Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office (MMCO), in collaboration with the Lewin Group and the American Geriatrics Society.

This webinar will identify familiar challenges and best practices for Interdisciplinary Care Teams (ICT) working with older adults. Presenters will also address the importance of clinical, psychosocial, long-term care, behavioral, and community-based support for older adults, particularly Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries.

Participants will learn how to:

• Identify different members of the ICT and how the team’s approach to care may change over time based on the social and health needs of the older adult.

• Describe effective approaches to create high performing teams including clarifying roles of team members and establishing methods of communication and information sharing with the individual, their family, and core team members.

• Demonstrate basic knowledge of strategies to integrate long-term services and supports into care planning and overall team coordination.

• Demonstrate an understanding of how the ICT interacts with the consumer, and if appropriate, their caregiver.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Education (CE) credit is available for this webinar.

Presenters:

• Gwendolyn Graddy-Dansby, M.D., F.A.C.P., Medical Director, PACE Southeast Michigan

• Sandra White, LMSW, ACSW, PACE Southeast Michigan

• Ellen LaSalvia, MSW, LSW, Buckeye Health Plan

Final Webinar: Emergency Preparedness Requirements - Part IV


AHCA, along with guest speakers, has been hosting an ongoing webinar series event this year on the new emergency preparedness final rule impacting skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), nursing facilities (NFs) and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID).

This final rule is not applicable to assisted living (AL) providers. The rule was released on Friday, September 16, 2016, and can be found here

Providers will need to be in compliance by November 15, 2017.

The final webinar of the series for this year, entitled "Emergency Preparedness Requirements - Part IV", will occur on November 21, 2017.

On Tuesday, November 21, from 2 – 3 PM EST, guest speakers Sarah Baker, Programs Manager from Healthcare Ready and Nicolette A. Louissaint, Ph.D. Executive Director of Healthcare Ready and AHCA will host a webinar on the new emergency preparedness final rule.

The webinar will include an overview of Healthcare Ready and resources available to members, an update on this past hurricane season and best practices learned, and a review of components of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) emergency preparedness rule.

This is the fourth webinar in the four-part webinar series AHCA will hold this year on the emergency preparedness rule. 

You can register here for the webinar.

Registration Now Open for the 2018 Independent Owner (IO) Leadership Conference

Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!
Let the Good Times Roll!


Join your colleagues in New Orleans for inspiring speakers, stimulating discussions, and plenty of networking. You’ll walk away with fresh ideas and up to 8.5 CEUs!

Opening General Session
Glenn Van Ekeren of Vetter Health Services will inspire you with strategies for moving your team forward.

Closing General Session
Jessica Cox, the first armless pilot, embodies the spirit of adaptability and provides valuable insights on how to best approach a challenge. Listen to her journey of learning to fly with her feet.  

Education Sessions on Hot Topics like these:
  • ACO partnerships
  • VBP 
  • QRP measures
  • Payment reform
  • Adapting to the changing market place
       
Get all the details and register today.

Deadline: March 2, 2018 

Sponsors as of November 13, 2017: