Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Webinar: New Online Blended Nurse Assistant Training Program

Jon- Patrick Ewing


FREE Webinar! Learn About AHCA’s New Online Blended Nurse Assistant Training Program.


AHCA has just launched a new blended program for training and certifying highly qualified nurse assistants. Using the acclaimed How To Be a Nurse Assistant curriculum, you can now train CNAs with a combination of online study and in-person clinicals without compromising any of the quality you have come to expect from AHCA.


Join us for this free webinar to learn more about the fantastic benefits and cost savings of this program.

 AHCA's New Online Blended Nurse Assistant Training Program
Thursday, April 6, 2017
2:00 PM Eastern Time
You will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how you can take advantage of this new opportunity.

The webinar will:

· Show you how you can use the blended learning approach to train your staff

· Give a demonstration of the course

· Explain its customizable features as well as the state specific components

Learn how you can utilize and benefit from this latest advancement in nurse assistant education. Sign up for the webinar today. Visit CNAonline.ahca.org for more information about the online program.

CMS Reminds SNFs How to Prevent Physician Certification Denials

Dan Ciolek


A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) MLN Connects March 16, 2017 e-newsletter provided the following reminders and educational resources to help SNF providers avoid SNF PPS denials due insufficient physician certification documentation. SNF billing and compliance personnel are encouraged to review the following information.  


“According to the 2015 Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) Report, the denial rate for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) increased from 6.9% in 2014 to 11% in 2015 due to missing or incomplete certification/recertification:


· Statement must contain need for skilled services that can only be provided in SNF/swing-bed on a daily basis for a condition patient was treated for in prior hospital stay

· Must include physician’s dated signature (printed name if signature is illegible)

In addition, recertifications should include:

· Expected length of stay

· Explanation if continued need for services is for a condition that arose after SNF admission

· Any plans for home care

Resources:

· CERT: SNF Certifications and Recertifications MLN Matters® Special Edition Article

· SNF Billing Reference Fact Sheet

· Medicare Fee-For-Service 2014 Improper Payments Report, page 19

· Medicare Fee-For-Service 2015 Improper Payments Report, page 18”

CMS Open Door Forum

Dan Ciolek
 
 
 
 The next Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF)/Long Term Care (LTC) Open Door Forum is scheduled for tomorrow, March 23, 2017 at 2 PM Eastern Time. The conference leaders will be Todd Smith and Jill Darling. 
 
 
 
CMS Open Door Forum
Thursday, March 23, 2017
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern Time Eastern Time
 
 
**This Agenda is Subject to Change**
 
I. Opening Remarks
 
Chair – Todd Smith (Center for Medicare)
Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)
 
II. Announcements & Updates
III. Open Q&A
 
The next Open Door Forum is scheduled for Thursday, May 4, 2017.
 
This Open Door Forum is not intended for the press, and the remarks are not considered on the record. If you are a member of the Press, you may listen in but please refrain from asking questions during the Q & A portion of the call. If you have inquiries, please contact CMS at Press@cms.hhs.gov.
 
 
If you are unable to join the call tomorrow, CMS Open Door Forums will now be available through Podcasts. Please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/OpenDoorForums/PodcastAndTranscripts.html. Please allow a week or so to get it posted.

Open Door Participation Instructions:
This call will be Conference Call Only.

Dial: 1-800-837-1935 & Reference Conference ID: 57682259

If you have any questions please contact CMS directly at: SNF_LTCODF-L@cms.hhs.gov

More Than 20,000 Open Positions Posted in LTC Sector in March

Dave Kyllo


There are 20,588 open jobs this month in the nursing care facility (including SNFs), assisted living, and continuing care retirement community (CCRC) sectors this month according to the latest CEB TalentNeuron statistics. 


The number of open jobs has decreased by 1,300 since January. Correlating to this decrease is a small decline in the number of employers currently competing to fill positions. Slightly more than 2,000 direct employers are competing for candidates in March with the average position being posted for 50 days nationwide. 


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. 



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. Job postings on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center network are averaging nearly 1,800 views in March. 


This is the perfect 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.

Of course, the LTC Career Center is always free for job seekers.  And, job seekers are using the site with more than 84,000 searchable resumes on the National Healthcare Career Network this month.  

 
Employers who utilize the site also receive outstanding 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. 

 
Be smart and targeted in your search for qualified and 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.   

Interactive Map Matches State Dementia Training Mandates with CARES® Courses


 Dave Kyllo
Health Care Interactive has an interactive U.S. map that shows which CARES dementia training courses fulfill existing state dementia training requirements for various care settings. In states without specific training requirements for certain settings, HCI make recommendations on which training modules would be helpful for staff.


CARES contains six training courses that can be ordered individually or as a group. Bulk on-site licenses are also available. In addition, up to five essentiALZ® certifications from the Alzheimer’s Association can be earned by completing the training modules.


AHCA/NCAL recommends the CARES training program to help safely reduce the off-label use of antipsychotics and the CARES program is also supported by CMS. All AHCA/NCAL members receive a 10% discount on the CARES programs by using the code AHCA10 when ordering. For more information, watch this new short video or go to www.hcinteractive.com.










 

 

ANCC Board Certified Nurses Make a Difference in Reducing Use of Off-Label Antipsychotics

Dave Kyllo

Research conducted by AHCA/NCAL last summer found that the off-label antipsychotic use in skilled nursing centers with at least one RN certified in gerontological nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) were an average three to four percent lower than the national average in each quarter calendar years 2012 through 2015. Given the similarities between skilled nursing centers and assisted living communities, it is possible that similar correlations could hold true for assisted settings.


Reducing off-label antipsychotic use is one of the goals in the AHCA/NCAL Quality Initiative. Having RNs who are knowledgeable in gerontological nursing can be a key factor in driving non-pharmacological alternatives in providing quality dementia care.   


ANCC is the world’s largest and most prestigious nurse credentialing organization and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association. Less than one percent of America’s RNs are board certified in gerontological nursing. 


To help 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.


AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is on sale now through April 30 and each RN registrant can save $100 off his/her Gero Nurse Prep by entering promo code QUALITY17 (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 help RNs pass the ANCC exam. 

AHCA/NCAL Advocates Take the Hill for Medicaid, Survey Issues

 Drew Thies

 
Over 100 AHCA/NCAL Members are in Washington, D.C. today to advocate for preservation of Medicaid funds and survey reform. As Congress moves forward on health care reform efforts, the fly-in comes at a critical time.


Advocates will focus on opposing efforts to cut Medicaid funding for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their services. Medicaid already underfunds care in some settings, and superficially only pays 89 cents for every dollar of care delivered in a nursing home. AHCA/NCAL members will urge lawmakers to oppose efforts that reduce funding even further.


Members will also be educating Members of Congress on recent changes at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that have led to a dramatic rise in the issuance of Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs). Sub-regulatory guidance from CMS has caused skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to endure financial hardship because of the increasing volume and dollar amount of these CMPs.


Advocates will ask Congress to urge CMS to come up with reasonable solutions that ensure continued quality of care but do not unduly punish SNFs. This surge of CMPs takes place at a time where SNF quality is improving, and even the highest-quality providers are being burdened by these penalties.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

AHRQ Toolkit Designed to Reduce Urinary Tract Infections in Long-Term Care

AHRQ Online


A new evidence-based toolkit from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) can help long-term care facilities reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs). The toolkit is based on the experiences of more than 450 long-term care facilities across the country that participated in an AHRQ-funded project and successfully reduced CAUTI. The new toolkit uses strategies from AHRQ's Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), which has reduced CAUTI as well as central line-associated bloodstream infections in hospitals.

The toolkit combines clinical interventions and best practices for infection prevention with behavior change elements that promote leadership involvement, improvement in safety culture, teamwork, and communication, and sustainability. Its user-friendly educational modules, guides, and tools can help your facility advance from the "what to do" to the "how to do it.” The modules are customizable to local needs. They include: Using the Comprehensive Long-Term Care Safety Toolkit; Senior Leader Engagement; Staff Empowerment; Teamwork and Communication; Resident and Family Engagement; Sustainability; Indwelling Urinary Catheter Use and Care; and Urine Culturing and Antibiotic Stewardship.

Access the toolkit: https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/cauti-ltc/index.html?utm_source=ahrq&utm_medium=generic&utm_term=&utm_content=2&utm_campaign=AHRQ_cauti4ltc_2017.



HHS Delays New Mandatory Bundles

James Michel

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this morning issued an interim final rule delaying the effective date of the final rule, "Advancing Care Coordination through Episode Payment Models (EPMs); Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model; and Changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model."


The initial final rule, published on January 3, 2017, implements three new mandatory bundled payment models - coronary artery bypass graft (CABG); acute myocardial infarction (AMI); and surgical hip and femur fracture treatment (SHFFT) - in a variety of healthcare markets across the country. The effective date of the new mandatory EPMs originally was July 1, 2017. The interim final rule issued today delays the effective start-date of the three new EPMs for three months, to October 1, 2017. HHS is seeking comment on the appropriateness of the delay and is specifically requesting feedback on delaying the start-date even further to January 1, 2018. Other components of the original final rule are also delayed to October 1, including the cardiac rehabilitation incentive payment program and modifications to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) demonstration.


According to the rule, HHS is delaying the rule "to allow time for additional review, to ensure that the agency has adequate time to undertake notice and comment rulemaking to modify the policy if modifications are warranted, and to ensure that in such a case participants have a clear understanding of the governing rules and are not required to take needless compliance steps due to the rule taking effect for a short duration before any potential modifications are effectuated." The rule specifically references the "Regulatory Freeze Pending Review" executive memorandum signed by President Trump on January 20, 2017.


HHS Secretary Tom Price has previously stated his preference for delivery system and payment reform demonstrations that are voluntary as opposed to mandatory. This interim final rule signals that the agency is willing to reconsider its approach to broad, mandatory payment demonstrations.


Comments on the interim final rule will be due April 19th.  AHCA plans to submit comments. Please contact James Michel with any questions or comments on this rule or AHCA's response.

Monday, March 20, 2017

CMS Call on IMPACT Act Implementation - Register Now!

impactsignup@abtassoc.com

On Wednesday, March 29 from 1:30 - 3 pm Eastern Time, CMS will host a webinar to review its efforts to develop, implement, and maintain standardized Post-Acute Care (PAC) patient assessment data and pilot testing results. As CMS works toward implementing the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act that requires changes to the MDS, the RAND Corporation, under contract to CMS, will be working with skilled nursing centers in 14 metropolitan areas this fall to test NEW sections for the MDS.  Representatives on the call will also discuss plans for the upcoming field test.

Be sure to register and join the call if you are in any of the markets below.

The 14 broadly-defined markets include a wide radius around:

  • Boston, MA 
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Durham, NC 
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Harrisburg, VA
  • Houston, TX
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Nashville, TN
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • St. Louis, MO
  • San Diego, CA 


To register, visit MLN Connects Event Registration.

For more information, email impactsignup@abtassoc.com.

NOTE: Registration will close at 12:00 PM Eastern Time on the day of the call or when available space has been filled.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 Patients Safety Awareness Week

The 2017 Patient Safety Awareness Week is being held this week from March 12th to March 18th. The week is dedicated to increase awareness about patient safety among health professionals and the public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is proud to collaborate with the National Patient Safety Foundation to remind us all of the importance of safe patient care. Below are several ways you can participate: 

Harness the power of social media
  • Help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, using these helpful sample posts (or create your own).
Register on this Campaign site
  • Stay connected and informed about Patient Safety Awareness Week activities.
Join the discussion 
  •  Learn what others are doing for Patient Safety Awareness Week and share your ideas and activities to inspire others.
Learn additional ways you can stay connected by visiting the CDC patient safety website: http://bit.ly/cdcpatientsafety

Senate Confirms Verma to Head CMS

Photo Reuters
Drew Thies

The Senate voted 55-43 to approve Seema Verma to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Monday, filling a critical top health care role in the Trump administration.

Verma was formerly the owner of SVC Inc., a health care consulting firm specializing in Medicaid reform at the state level. She worked with Vice President Mike Pence when he was Governor of Indiana, as well as several other states.

Provider and industry groups alike praised Verma’s confirmation. AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson issued a statement upon her confirmation saying “Her experience and health care policy knowledge will serve the country well as we continue on the journey to provide quality care for millions of patients and residents.”

Last week, Parkinson and NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle penned an op-ed supporting Verma's nomination.

Verma will report to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was confirmed earlier this year.

Webinar: Reaching People with Arthritis

March 28th, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST
 
Arthritis is a leading cause of disability among adults in the U.S., with more than 50 million individuals managing symptoms like pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Join this webinar by NCOA and the Arthritis Foundations to learn about new strategies and tools to help you better tackle this issue in your community. 
 
The Participants will be informed on:
  • The prevalence and impact of arthritis.
  • Strategies that can connect people to evidence-based programs in order to manage arthritis symptoms and remain active.
  • Resources from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Arthritis Foundation.
  • Successful practices from the Utah Arthritis Program.
The presenters will include:
  • Mary Altpeter and Serena Weisner, UNC at Chapel Hill Thurston Arthritis Research Center, OsteoArthritis Action Alliance
  • Nick Turkas, Arthritis Foundation
  • Nichole Shepard and Rebecca Castleton, Utah Department of Health
  • Learn more about NCOA, the Arthritis Foundation.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Registration is Now Open for Congressional Briefing 2017

Matthew Smyth

Join AHCA/NCAL in Washington, DC this spring as we take your concerns directly to the Hill.

• Hear the latest on what's happening in Washington

Meet with your Members of Congress IN PERSON

• Network and share ideas with colleagues

You'll also enjoy terrific guest speakers. This year's keynote is Fox New Channel Anchor Bret Baier. Plus, many more special guests will drop by.

Check CB.ahcancal.org over the next several weeks to see updates on the events happening during the two jam-packed days of Congressional Briefing. No one ever goes home disappointed! The conference registration fee is complimentary to AHCA/NCAL Members and AHCA/ NCAL Associate Business Members, and their spouses, and is accepted on a first-come basis.


Register now and make your hotel reservations. Rooms will fill up quickly!


Advanced Registration Deadline: May 8, 2017

Official Sponsor: Medline
Supporting sponsors: LTC REIT, Navigator, Reliant

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Observation Stays in the National Spotlight






Last week, NBC Nightly News and MSNBC featured segments that continue to shine a spotlight on the observation stays issue. For both stories, National Correspondent Kate Snow, reported on the impact of Medicare’s current law that leaves thousands of beneficiaries stuck with high medical bills after leaving the hospital if skilled nursing care services are needed. And on MSNBC, Snow interviewed Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) about his bipartisan legislation that will help fix the current policy. The MSNBC video with Rep. Courtney discusses the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act. The NBC Nightly News segment with Lester Holt discusses the importance of knowing your hospital status before being discharged.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) continue to keep the observation stays issue one of its top advocacy priorities. To learn more about observation stays, visit our website here.




National Emerging Leadership Summit



Come engage with fellow emerging leaders in an unrivaled opportunity to strategize, advocate, connect, and innovate the future of the health and aging services profession. The National Emerging Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. aims to increase, improve, and support the health and aging services profession to attract talent and future leaders by giving a voice to the next generation of leaders.

The Summit is held June 20 - 22, 2017.  There are 30 spaces available for the 2017 Summit. More information, including the application is available at: http://www.nelssummit.org





FREE Webinar Helps You Discover the Best New Nurse Assistant Training Program in the Country!

Jon Patrick Ewing

AHCA is thrilled to announce a new blended program for training and certifying highly qualified nurse assistants. Using the acclaimed How To Be a Nurse Assistant curriculum, you can now train CNAs with a combination of online study and in-person clinicals without compromising any of the quality you have come to expect from AHCA.


Join us for this free webinar to learn more about the fantastic benefits and cost savings of this program.

Thursday,  April 6, 2017
2:00 PM- EST

You will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn how you can take advantage of this new opportunity.

The webinar will:

· Show you how you can use the blended learning approach to train your staff
· Give a demonstration of the course
· Explain its customizable features as well as the state specific components

Learn how you can utilize and benefit from this latest advancement in nurse assistant education. Sign up for the webinar today. Visit CNAonline.ahca.org for more information about the online program.

Presidential Executive Order on Reorganizing the Executive Branch

Dianne De La Mare

Yesterday, on March 13, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch.   The purpose of the order, as the White House notes, is to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies (as defined in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code), components of agencies, and agency programs.

At this time, AHCA is analyzing it to determine how it could benefit our profession. We will update you with any relevant information post-review of the order.

New Emergency Preparedness Requirements – Part II in the Webinar Series




On Thursday, April 27 AHCA will host a webinar with guest speakers Ray Miller, Director of Risk and Safety Solutions from Direct Supply and Craig Camidge, Executive Director and Regional Coordinator from Near Southwest Preparedness Alliance (NSPA). The webinar will be on the new emergency preparedness final rule impacting Skilled Nursing Facilities, Nursing Facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. This final rule is not applicable to Assisted Living Providers.

New Emergency Preparedness Requirements
Thursday, April 27, 2017
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Eastern Time


Providers will need to be in compliance by November 2017. The webinar will include an overview of the all-hazard risk assessment, how to address health and safety risks for your population and reasons to network with other providers. This is the second webinar in the four-part webinar series AHCA will hold this year on the emergency preparedness rule. 

To register for the webinar you will need your ahcancalED log in credentials: https://educate.ahcancal.org/products/new-emergency-preparedness-requirements-part-ii-in-the-webinar-series

Bipartisan Bill to Fix Observation Stays Issue Reintroduced in Congress

Dana Halvorson 


Last week, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) commended several members of Congress for reintroducing the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2017 (S. 568/H.R. 1421). Introduced on March 8, 2017 by Congressmen Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) and Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the legislation ensures that time spent under “observation status” in a hospital counts toward satisfying the three-day inpatient hospital requirement for coverage of skilled nursing care services under Medicare. The Observation Stays Coalition, which consists of 31 organizations including AHCA/NCAL, fully supports this legislation.


AHCA/NCAL continues to keep the observation stays issue one of its top advocacy and outreach priorities. 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 the observation stays issue, please visit the AHCA/NCAL website.
You also might be interested to read this Journal of Hospital Medicine March 2017 editorial entitled Medicare and the 3-Inpatient Midnight Requirement: A Statute in Need of Modernization written by Representative Joe Courtney and Dr. Ann M. Sheehy of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

HHS Says it Can't Clear Medicare Appeals Backlog by 2021 Deadline




Modern Healthcare reported this week that HHS officials say they don't have the money or resources to wipe out their pending Medicare billing appeals by a December 2016 court-imposed 2021 deadline. HHS filed a report with the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia this week that they haven’t been able to effectively reduce its Medicare billing appeals backlog, and it has even more pending appeals than previously anticipated. HHS said there are currently 667,326 pending appeals, and it projects the number of pending appeals will rise 3% by the end of 2017 to 687,382. That number will eventually rise 46% by the end of 2021 to just over 1 million claims. HHS claims that complying with the plan is “not possible given current funding and legislative authorities.”

Maximize Your RN Talent to Reduce Rehospitalizations!



Having at least one RN who has been certified in gerontological nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has been correlated to achieve better outcomes in nursing facilities. 

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

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 on their first try and receive 30 CEUs.


AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is on sale now through April 30 and each RN registrant can save $100 off his/her Gero Nurse Prep by entering promo code QUALITY17 (all caps) at checkout. RNs who are interested in boosting their credentials and expertise 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 help RNs pass the ANCC exam.  


The time to complete for the Gero Nurse Prep program is flexible. RNs have one year to complete the program and the clock does not start ticking until they start begin their coursework.    


Get an edge on your competition and order now while Gero Nurse Prep is on sale and save $100 by using entering promo code QUALITY17 (all caps) at checkout.

Delivering the Universal Language of Music Through Mood Media



Hans Christian Anderson once said “where words fail, music speaks.” Members can keep music alive in their communities through music offered by Mood Media at AHCA/NCAL “Member Only” discounted rates.


Mood Media offers great musical variety for events or casual common area listening via the internet or streaming, and offers customized commercial free music options that allow facilities to tailor musical selections to meet changing resident preferences. Mood customers enjoy freedom from music licensing worries on Mood Media’s huge collection of music selections played on Mood Media's portable devices.


Use Mood Media’s music to:

· Improve the dining experience and set the mood in dining areas as residents gather for meals;

· Provide a variety of background music in common areas;

· Create a positive environment for activities; and

· Provide musical entertainment for social gatherings and happy hours.

AHCA/NCAL members receive exclusive discounted rates on Mood services and equipment with three-year agreements. The core music package starts at $29.99 per month or about $1 per day with a three-year agreement.    


For more information about Mood Media’s services, call 800-345-5000 or go to http://partner.moodmedia.com/ahcancal/ (password: moodpartner).

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Webinar: Caring Together

Lindsay Schwartz

Please join the American Assisted Living Nurses Association (AALNA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) for our first Caring Together Webinar of 2017 on March 14 at 3:00pm to 4:00pm Eastern. Our presenter will be Liz Jenzen, RN MSN, RN-BC with Direct Supply who will be talking about rising acuity in assisted living. Assisted living providers are realizing both the benefits and challenges of meeting the rising acuity needs of their residents. Advancing age and chronic diseases are challenging providers to consider how to best meet those needs. A chronic disease management framework offers opportunities to expand clinical capabilities and integrate with existing service models. Trends in programs, clinical capabilities and services as well as resources and tools will be explored. Sign-up prior to the webinar here.

House Releases “Repeal and Replace” Legislation

Drew Thies

House Energy & Commerce Committee - Photo C-SPAN
House leadership announced late Monday plans to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In addition to making significant changes to health exchange markets, the plan also includes Medicaid reforms that fundamentally change federal program funding.


The bill, known as the American Health Care Act, changes the way in which the federal government contributes to state Medicaid programs. It divides populations into distinct categories, then puts caps on the federal contribution to each of those population groups.


Beneficiaries are divided into five categories: aged, disabled, children, Medicaid expansion adults, and other adults. Each state would receive a dollar amount for each person in each category in the state.


Nursing centers would receive funding from the federal aged and disabled allocations. The state would then decide how to spend the funds within the categories. States could spend the funds on long term care facilities, on home health, on acute care or any combination of health care providers, up to the cap.


The American Health Care Association is concerned that these caps do not take into account increasing costs of care for these population groups nor do they mandate the amount of Medicaid funds that are spent on nursing care.


The legislation is passed through a budget process known as reconciliation. The process is used to avoid the potential of a filibuster in the Senate, which requires 60 votes to override. Reconciliation legislation operates on a stricter set of parliamentary rules than other bills, though only requires 51 votes to pass the Senate with no threat of filibuster.


The House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees will hold hearings and mark up the legislation today. Republicans hope to pass it through the House process and on to the Senate within the coming weeks.

AHCA/NCAL members only, who wish to learn more about the contents of the bill can view a webinar here.

OIG Hotline Number Used in Scam

Dianne De La Mare

The US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently confirmed that the OIG Hotline telephone number is being used as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. The scammers represent themselves as OIG Hotline employees and can alter the appearance of the caller ID to make it seems as if the call is coming from OIG Hotline 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477). The perpetrator uses various tactics to obtain or verify the victim’s personal information, which can then be used to steal money from an individual’s bank account or for other fraudulent activity.

OIG takes this mater seriously and is actively investigating this matter, with the intent to have the perpetrators prosecuted. Individuals should not answer calls from the OIG Hotline number. To obtain more information go to https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/consumer-alerts/alerts/phone-scam.asp.

DOJ Document Discusses Evaluating Corporate Compliance Programs

Dianne De La Mare

 
On February 8th, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new guidance, Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs, explaining how it evaluates corporate compliance programs during fraud investigations. The guidance sets forth the relevant factors that prosecutors should consider when investigating a corporate entity. These factors include assessing the effectiveness of the corporation’s existing compliance program, and looking at the corporation’s remedial efforts to implement or improve the compliance program.

The guidance is important because it provides the public with important topics and sample questions that DOJ Fraud Section, deem especially relevant. The guidance is divided into 11 sections including:

  • Analysis and Remediation of Underlying Misconduct
  • Senior and Middle Management; Autonomy and Resources
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Risk Assessment
  • Training and Communications
  • Confidential Reporting and Investigation
  • Incentives and Disciplinary Measures
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Periodic Testing and Review
  • Third Party Management
  •  Mergers and Acquisitions.
Within each topic area are sample questions that corporations should expect to be asked during the course of an investigation. Although much of this guidance may seem familiar, it gives some additional detail and transparency on the DOJ assessment process.
 

OIG Releases FY 2016 Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Statistical Data

Dianne De La Mare
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released FY 2016 statistics highlighting Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) investigations, recoveries and expenditures by state. Specifically, MFCUs were responsible for 1,721 indictments; 1,564 convictions, and $1.8 billion in criminal and civil recoveries. The majority of those actions focused on Medicaid fraud, and approximately 3,000 investigations dealt with abuse or neglect.

See FY 2016 Chart, Interactive Map and Podcast about MFCUs.





Check Updated LEIE Database

Dianne De La Mare

 The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released its updated List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) database file, which reflects all OIG exclusions and reinstatement actions up to, and including, those taken in February 2017. This new file is meant to replace the updated LEIE database file available for download last month. Individuals and entities that have been reinstated to the federal health care programs are not included in this file.

The updated files are posted on OIG’s website at http://www.oig.hhs.gov/exclusions/exclusions_list.asp, and healthcare providers have an “affirmative duty” to check to ensure that excluded individuals are not working in their facilities or face significant fines. Instructional videos explaining how to use the online database and the downloadable files are available at http://oig.hhs.gov/exclusions/download.asp. Given the penalties and recent government warnings, long term care providers should check the LEIE on a regular basis.

Celebrate Certified Nurses on March 19

Dave Kyllo


Certified Nurses Day™, held annually on March 19, honors nurses worldwide who contribute to better patient outcomes through national board certification in their specialty. A registered nurse (RN) license allows nurses to practice. Certification affirms advanced knowledge, skill, and practice to meet the challenges of modern nursing.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers certification in gerontological nursing – the gold standard in demonstrating clinical excellence in geriatric patient care. Less than one percent of RNs have this credentialing, so credentialed RNs help providers stand out in a highly competitive marketplace. 


To help RNs prepare for the certification exam, AHCA/NCAL offers a course called Gero Nurse Prep. RNs who complete the course earn 30 CEUs and experience a 96% pass rate on the ANCC certification exam. Watch this video or go to the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep web site to learn more about this terrific course.


AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is on sale now through April 30 and each RN registrant can save $100 off his/her Gero Nurse Prep by entering promo code QUALITY17 (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. 


AHCA/NCAL encourages members to recognize their credentialed RNs on March 19. If your RNs are not yet credentialed, take this important step on your quality journey and check out AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep today.       

Friday, March 3, 2017

Webinar: LTC Trend Tracker Team

help@ltctrendtracker.com

Improving quality care is a journey, and LTC Trend Tracker is the tool you need to ensure your organization stays on track. Monitor your progress on quality measures, Five-Star, AHCA/NCAL Quality Initiative goals, hospital readmission rates and more. Identify areas your organization should address in order to improve and set your own performance targets. Demonstrate your dedication to quality to your patients and residents with verifiable results.

If you're not sure how to best utilize the LTC Trend Tracker system, AHCA/NCAL is ready each month to provide real time tutorials for users.  Join the team on the next Live Webinar on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time.  Register online for access to live help with the team and the experts who manage Your Top-Line publications. 

What items will be discussed on this webinar?

 Agenda:

I. Announcements
II. Top 5 Questions Asked in February

1. When did this quarter’s Top-Line publication launch? If I missed the email, can I still access it?
2. Who receives the Top-Line publication?
3. What is my survey score?
4. How and when does my building’s name change reflect in LTC Trend Tracker?
5. Why haven’t I received any emails from the LTC Trend Tracker team?

III. Your Top-Line publication
IV. Q&A

Register today for this free monthly webinar.  Please email help@ltctrendtracker.com if you have any questions.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Best Practice” Standards for Nutrition in Long Term Care

Event Date: May 11, 2017 - 2:00pm – 3:00pm (EST)
Nutrition plays a critical role in quality of life and care with the aging. Providers are expected to provide current “best practice” with nutrition to include balancing “risk vs benefit” with person-centered care. This session will provide the most current “best practice” recommendations related to nutrition along with resources to assist in implementation at the facility level.

Learning Objectives


· Identify current Best Practice standards with Nutrition and Aging.

· Discuss current Best Practice standards with Nutrition related to Malnutrition, Wounds, and Hydration.

· Know available Best Practice Resources to support implementation at the Facility Level.

Here is the direct link: https://educate.ahcancal.org/products/best-practice-standards-for-nutrition-in-long-term-care#tab-product_tab_overview

Presenter: Brenda Richardson, MA, RDN, LD, CD, FAND

So You Think You Might Want to Run for the AHCA or NCAL Board: Everything You Want to Know but Are Afraid to Ask

Event Date: April 19, 2017 - 2:00pm – 3:00pm (EST)

American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) members in good standing may submit an application for the 2017-18 elections for the AHCA Board of Governors and the NCAL Board of Directors. This webinar will explain the application, credentialing and campaign process. It is perfect for those interested in running this year or in future years.

Learning Objectives

· Understand what the AHCA/NCAL Board applications require.

· Learn about the credentialing and campaign process.

· Identify what is required of AHCA/NCAL Board members.

Registration link: https://educate.ahcancal.org/products/so-you-think-you-might-want-to-run-for-the-ahca-or-ncal-board-everything-you-want-to-know-but-are-afraid-to-ask

Presenters

Len Russ, CEO, Bayberry/CPR Associates

Katherine Preede, Senior Director, Membership and Business Development, AHCA/NCAL

Patricia Georgio, President/CEO, Evergreen Estates

Seema Verma Nomination Supported By Senate Committee

Drew Thies

Seema Verma received the Senate Finance Committee’s recommendation to become Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services today (CMS), the final step before she receives consideration by the full Senate.

Committee members voted 15-11 to pass Verma's nomination to the full Senate.

The vote was initially stalled, as some Senators voted by proxy and the present votes tied at 9-9. The proxy votes indicate, however, that Verma will have support of the committee when Senators reconvene.

As Director of CMS, Verma will report to Dr. Tom Price, who was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services last month.

Verma is formerly the President, CEO and founder of SVC, Inc., an Indiana-based consulting firm that worked with Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor, to expand Medicaid in the state. Verma has also worked with many other Republican governors to create Medicaid programs palatable to conservatives.


NCAL Executive Director, Scott Tittle, who worked with Verma in his previous capacity as President of the Indiana Health Care Association, said in a statement, “She has always demonstrated a very thoughtful and collaborative approach to complex health care policy, and I'm excited to see my friend and fellow Hoosier bring this approach to the national level.”

National Adult Immunization Plan and Accompanying Path to Implementation Available

Holly Harmon


To boost adult immunization rates and improve the public’s health, the National Vaccine Program Office issued the first-ever National Adult Immunization Plan (NAIP) with wide input from a variety of stakeholders. The newly released companion document, the National Adult Immunization Plan: A Path to Implementation, facilitates action on the goals outlined in the NAIP by identifying 8 implementation priorities and suggesting potential activities to support each priority. These plans outline ways to work together to overcome barriers to adult immunization, strengthen infrastructure and improve adult immunization rates.

Gero Nurse Prep Goes on Sale Today!

Dave Kyllo

AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is on sale now through April 30 and each RN registrant can save $100 off his/her Gero Nurse Prep by entering promo code QUALITY17 (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). 


Having at least one RN who has been certified in gerontological nursing by the ANCC has been correlated to achieve better outcomes in nursing facilities. 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. 


Re-hospitalization rates are critical to SNFs future success because CMS is tracking skilled nursing rehospitalization rates on for the new SNF Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program this year. Under the VBP program, claims for services furnished on or after Oct. 1, 2018, will be subject to a 2 percent withhold. Providers will have the opportunity to get some or all of this money back depending on how well they do in managing hospital readmissions and meeting or exceeding performance standards.


SNFs will be rated on achievement against all other facilities nationally as well as on their own improvement, comparing their rate during 2017 with their previous performance during 2015.


The key metric for the program is known as the SNF 30-Day All-Cause Readmission Measure (SNFRM). SNFRM estimates a risk-standardized rate of all-cause, unplanned hospital readmissions of Medicare SNF beneficiaries within 30 days of discharge from their prior acute hospitalization.

AHCA/NCAL’s research also found that nursing facilities with at least one ANCC board certified nurse were twice as likely to receive an overall 5-Star rating from CMS and far less likely to receive a 1-Star rating.    

 
ANCC is the world’s largest and most prestigious nurse credentialing organization and a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association.  Less than one percent of America’s RNs are board certified in gerontological nursing. 


To help 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 on their first try and receive 30 CEUs.


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 help RNs pass the ANCC exam. 


Set the course toward Medicare success and check out AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep today. Remember to enter promo code QUALITY17 and save $100 off the registration fee now through April 30. 

Be Strategic About Finding the Best LTC Talent

Dave Kyllo

The AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center helps members fill their health care job vacancies. This is the perfect year 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.


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 new employer resource and see how easy it is to create an account on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center site.


The LTC Career Center 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 1,700 views a month.  


Be smart and targeted in your search for qualified and 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.   

CMS Directs MACs to Suspend Posting Revised or New Local Policies

Dan Ciolek
 

Recently, Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) have been cancelling open meetings and Contractor Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings that are typically used as part of the process to develop and disseminate information pertaining to new or revised local coverage policy. Concurrently, a number of the MAC websites (e.g. Cahaba GBA)  have posted information that indicates that CMS “…has instructed all MACs to not post new or revised Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs) or Local Coverage Articles (LCAs) until further notice.” 


It is believed that this pause in local coverage policy development is associated with the President’s regulatory reform agenda and Executive Order to “alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens…” and that the local coverage policy development process will resume later this year, once the new CMS administrator has had the opportunity to review and revise that policy development process as necessary.

Senator Hoeven Urges VA Secretary to Expand Extended-Care for Veterans, Allow Provider Agreements

Dana Halvorson

Sen. Hoeven (R-ND)
On February 16, 2017, U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) urged Dr. David Shulkin, the newly-confirmed Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), to expand veteran access to extended care services through the regulatory process. According to a February 27, 2017, press statement from the Senator’s office, “the Senator’s goal is to allow the VA to enter into provider agreements with non-VA long-term care providers, rather than the current burdensome federal contracting requirements.”
The full text of Hoeven’s letter can be found here.


As noted in previously, 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. The Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has administered onerous reporting requirements and regulations, which have dissuaded nursing care centers from admitting VA patients. This limits the care available to veterans needing long term care in their local communities. AHCA has been advocating for VA provider agreements that would make the VA requirements for providers the same as they are for CMS and waives the OFCCP federal contracting requirements. Legislation, Congressional hearings and mark-ups, press statements, work with the VA and DOL, and continued advocacy has all been done in the past by AHCA to work to get VA provider agreements across the finish line, and to take those with VA contracts out of the scope of being deemed a federal contractor.

AHCA will keep its membership apprised of any updates relating to this important issue.