Wednesday, June 20, 2018

New MACPAC Report on Medicaid

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) released its June 2018 Report to the Congress. Click here to access a copy of the report, which focuses on the following topic areas:

the high cost of prescription drugs;
the opioid epidemic; and
the growing trend of delivering long term services and supports (LTSS) through managed care.

MACPAC issues these reports to inform policymakers, and their topic selection indicates opioid epidemic and Medicaid managed LTSS are hot topics for Medicaid right now.

The first chapter on barriers to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment makes two recommendations to support information exchange among health care providers under the federal SUD confidentiality regulations known as Part 2. Part 2 has been criticized as confusing, restrictive, and challenging to implement; according to the Commission, additional guidance, education, and technical assistance to clarify these regulations would be a meaningful step to help providers, payers, and patients understand their legal rights and obligations and opportunities for information sharing that would facilitate integration of care.

Another chapter on barriers to SUD treatment builds on MACPAC’s June 2017 analysis, Medicaid and the Opioid Epidemic. The new analysis finds that although states already can cover many clinical SUD services, only 12 states pay for the full continuum. And while the institutions for mental diseases (IMD) exclusion often is cited as a barrier to paying for residential services, states can cover residential services under some conditions now through Section 1115 demonstrations and managed care. Eliminating the IMD exclusion would not address other coverage gaps or low participation of SUD treatment providers in Medicaid.

MACPAC also reflects on Medicaid’s role as the nation’s largest payer for LTSS and the growing trend to deliver these services through managed care. While states typically adopt managed LTSS (MLTSS) after gaining experience with managed care for acute care, the complex needs of people who receive LTSS and the wide range of services they use make implementation of MLTSS more complex. The Commission observes that adoption of new quality measures and efforts to improve encounter data have potential to improve evaluation and oversight activities.

Register for AcademyHealth's Annual Research Meeting - June 24-26!

AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting (ARM), the premier forum for health services research (HSR), convenes the foremost experts at the intersection of health, health care, and policy to share important findings and showcase the latest research on how the health system works, what it costs, and how to improve it.

The largest meeting of its kind, the ARM is packed with new research, cutting-edge methods, and robust discussions of HSR’s impact on health policy and practice.

Join more than 2,500 attendees June 24-26 in Seattle, Washington, to share and strengthen the evidence needed to inform the decisions that affect the health of individuals and communities.

Learn more and register today here!

Questions? Contact

What: 2018 Annual Research Meeting (ARM)
Where: Seattle, Washington (Washington State Convention Center)
When: June 24-26, 2018
Event Website:

Snap to It! Your Guide to Planning NALW is Here

Rachel Reeves

Start preparing for the biggest week of the year with the National Assisted Living Week® (NALW) Planning Guide and Product Catalog. This year’s planning guide contains creative activity ideas and spirited products to highlight this year’s theme, “Capture the Moment.” The theme reminds assisted living residents to seize the day while celebrating the past. And reminds staff to focus on the little, everyday interactions that deliver high quality care in America’s assisted living communities.

Some of the suggested activities include:
  • Creating a yearbook of the assisted living community’s residents and staff before NALW and then hold a signing party during 
  • Having a photo booth or backdrop available to take selfies 
  • Fulfilling a lifelong dream for a resident, perhaps by partnering with an organization like Second Wind Dreams (International Second Wind Dreams Day is September 13) 
  • Setting up an art activity to have residents draw or paint a key moment in their lives or a self-portrait and then have an art gallery event at the end of NALW 
  • “Captured in the Moment” awards for staff members who are caught by other staff going above and beyond the call of duty 
Share your own activity ideas on the NALW Facebook page.

The guide also links providers to this year’s NALW products, which can also be found in AHCA/NCAL’s online bookstore. Get in the spirit with t-shirts, balloons, posters and more. New to our NALW products this year – women’s t-shirts!

Beginning on Grandparents Day, Sept. 9 and running through Sept. 15, NALW will be celebrated in assisted living communities across the country. It’s an opportunity to thank staff members for their hard work and volunteers for their service. NALW is also a time to help the public better understand how assisted living communities play a crucial role in the larger long term care spectrum as well as the unique experiences and needs of residents.

Stay tuned for a forthcoming media toolkit to help assisted living providers promote NALW in their community.

For more information, please visit

Looking for Solutions to Your Toughest Workforce Challenges?

A stable workforce directly impacts the quality of care you provide at your centers. That’s why this year’s convention includes an entire track of programming devoted to workforce issues. You’ll find sessions on recruitment, retention, Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ), and more. You’ll also share ideas and concerns with other long term and post-acute care professionals who understand exactly what you’re facing on a day-to-day basis. You are sure to walk away with specific strategies and plans to help you create the strong workforce culture you need to succeed.

Just listen to what some of your peers said after attending last year…

The AHCA/NCAL convention…went above and beyond my expectations. The speakers were terrific and provided me with new ideas for improving employee satisfaction and quality care.
Diana Roberts, Administrator, Evans Memorial Home

There is no better conference or opportunity to learn about our profession or to network with peers.
Fred Benjamin, President, SNF Division, Lexington Health Network

So don’t delay. Get all the details and select the registration package that meets your needs.

Early bird savings ends July 20.

Ways to Save: Register for the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo

Jon-Patrick Ewing

If you haven’t registered for the 69th Annual AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo, don’t wait any longer. The early bird registration discount ends in just four weeks, July 20. By registering before the early bird deadline, you get the maximum savings possible on your registration package. Online registration is quick, easy, with immediate confirmation. You can also book your housing at the same time. All attendees must be registered for the event before any housing reservations can be made. Additionally, staying within the official AHCA/NCAL housing block will result in $100 discount off your registration fees (exclusions apply, see website).  If attendees book housing in the official AHCA/NCAL housing block and later cancel their reservation, the additional $100 registration fee will automatically be charged. 

We hope to see you in San Diego, October 7-10.

It’s Summertime and the Living is Easy with Mood Media

Dave Kyllo

Whether you want to sing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long or the Summer Breeze makes you feel fine, AHCA/NCAL members can create a festive summer atmosphere 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 (password: moodpartner).

Advance Your Long Term Care Career with ACHCA Administrator Credentialing

Dave Kyllo

Administrators are key players in the long term care team and are entrusted with the responsibility of caring for our loved ones. They touch the lives of residents and families, and most importantly, ensure that their staff provides the highest level of quality care to a vulnerable population.

AHCA/NCAL partners with the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) for its administrator certification programs. The goals of the partnership are to increase awareness of advanced certification and professional growth opportunities and to encourage independent professional certification for nursing facility and assisted living administrators/directors.

ACHCA has established eligibility criteria prior to taking the exam, including two years of licensure (other options exist for assisted living administrators in states without administrator licensure) and continuing education requirements. Both must be established before an individual is authorized to sit for the credentialing exam. While ACHCA membership has many benefits for administrators/directors, ACHCA membership is not a requirement for ACHCA certification.

The application fee for either the nursing facility or assisted living certification exam is $150.  AHCA/NCAL members should use AHCA/NCAL members should use code AHCANCAL when they complete their initial ACHCA applications. The single credential fee (the fee paid after an individual passes the exam) is only $300 for AHCA/NCAL members, a $50 discount off the regular non-ACHCA member price when AHCA/NCAL members use promo code AHCANCAL at checkout.

Credentialing through ACHCA lasts five years. Recertification involves obtaining 150 hours of continuing education in five areas during the five-year certification period and paying a recertification fee.

ACHCA certification can provide State licensure reciprocity with certain states. Licensing rules and requirements vary by state. Check with your state licensing board for your state’s reciprocity requirements. A list of state licensure boards and contact information is maintained on the NAB website at

For more information about ACHCA certification, go to or call 1-800-561-3148.  

Get Nationwide Exposure for Your Open Job Vacancies on the National Health Care Career Network for $263 Per Job Posting through July 31

Dave Kyllo

Finding qualified employees is one of the greatest challenges facing long term care providers and June’s open job statistics prove that the challenge is only growing in the strong economy with a decreasing unemployment rate. 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 have never been more affordable. Now through July 31, open positions can be posted on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center for $263 per posting when employers use promo code SUMMER25. That’s 25% off the normal low AHCA/NCAL rate of $350.

The LTC Career Center connects with the Health Care Career Network and gives prospective employers far greater exposure than local ads and job boards by providing visibility on a network of nearly 300 national and state health care organizations and societies. The Center is also fully integrated with Google’s job search feature “Google for Jobs” creating greater exposure for job postings.

There are 34,282 open jobs posted by direct employers 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. That represents an increase of nearly 1,000 open positions in the last month that are posted by long term care employers.  

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 2,271 direct employers are competing for candidates this month – about the same number as April and May. The average number of days a job was posted was 34 days in June.    

Employers who utilize the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center receive free bonus 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 AHCA/NCAL LTC Career Center get extra value through free 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.

Make the smart, low cost employee recruitment choice. Check out the LTC Career Center today and don’t forget to use promo code SUMMER25 to save 25% on your job postings. Employers may use the code up to three times between now and July 31 on any number of postings.     

Call Robin at 866-964-2765 x2736 for more information about posting job vacancies on the LTC Career Center and other discounted job listing packages. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Stop the stigma with mental health

Person-centered care is holistic health care - focusing on mind and body.

With mental and behavioral health diagnoses increasing in assisted living, it is imperative that providers understand these diagnoses, how to screen for them, and how to best support residents with these diagnoses.

NCAL Day at the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo offers an important education session for any assisted living provider, “Providing Mental Health Care in Assisted Living.” Join us Sunday, October 7 at the San Diego Convention Center for this critical discussion.

The recent, tragic passings of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain remind us that no one is immune from mental health issues. And studies show that depression in older adults tends to be more severe than in other age groups.

Join mental health and quality of life expert, Barbara Speedling to better understand how mental health impacts assisted living residents' physical health and overall well-being.

Barbara Speedling, BS
President/Quality of Life Specialist
Innovations for Quality Living

Barbara is a New York-based quality management consultant who provides education, training and support to community, residential and long-term care providers in the development of programs and services to meet a broad range of behavioral health needs.

Author of “Why is Grandma Screaming?” (2014) and “Toward Better Behavior” (2017).

"Providing Mental Health Care in Assisted Living" will also help assisted living providers determine how to screen for mental health diagnoses and develop care plans to provide person-centered, holistic care to residents.

NCAL Day is a separate ticketed event and must be purchased in addition to any convention registration package. Learn more about what NCAL Day at Convention has to offer.

Register by July 20 to save $100 off any Convention package.

And discover what the rest of the 69th Annual AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention has in store for all long term and post-acute care providers at

NCAL Day is sponsored by:


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Webinar: Finding the Balance--Enhancing Self-Efficacy in Persons Living with Dementia

June 26, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

Register for the event

Few attributes of personhood are more zealously protected than self-determination, and few fears more troubling than losing one's independence. For people with dementia this can be particularly intense. Using stories taken from more than 30 years of experience, geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Susan Wehr will illustrate why preserving autonomy and enhancing self-efficacy in people with dementia are important. She will discuss ways professionals can support individuals living with dementia—and their families—in making decisions, even in the context of diminished decision-making capacity.

Registration and Details

Registration is required to receive the webinar information. Visit the webinar information webpage to sign up and learn more. If you are interested but unable to attend, the webinar recording will be available at

AALNA/NCAL Caring Together Webinar: Talking the Talk: Having Difficult Conversation on LGBT-Related Topics

Lindsay Schwartz

Please join us for our quarterly AALNA/NCAL Caring Together Webinar, Talking the Talk: Having Difficult Conversation on LGBT-Related Topics, on June 19th 3:00 – 4:00pm Eastern. Caring for older adults often involves having difficult conversations, and these talks can be even more stressful when they touch on issues related to a person’s sexual activity, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity. Many care providers are hesitant to raise issues related to same-sex sexual contact, gender expression, and LGBT relationships. Interacting with family members can add an additional layer of stress, especially if they are not comfortable with the older adult’s LGBT identity, sexual behavior, gender identity, or gender expression. This session is a safe and supportive space for participants to work through our tips for discussing LGBT identity in a respectful manner. We will work through conversations like: how to conduct LGBT affirming intake, how to apologize if you inadvertently use a disrespectful term, how to discuss a resident’s sexual behavior with their family members, how to advocate for a resident’s right to express their gender in the manner of their choosing, how to advocate for a resident’s right to control who can visit them, and how to address instances of bias between community members.

Webinar Speaker: Tim R. Johnston, Ph.D., is the Director of National Projects at Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). He is responsible for directing SAGE’s national training initiatives, developing training curricula and providing consulting services to both aging and LGBT service providers. In addition to training, Tim oversees key national grants and projects, such as SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the US Administration for Community Living’s Senior Medicare Patrol Integration project, and elements of SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative.

Please register for the webinar here.

Wonder How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects the Brain?

The National Institute on Aging at NIH has released a video that shows how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. This short video is a great resource to share with staff and family to better understand the impact of Alzheimer’s on residents.

AHCA/NCAL Convention Offers More Than 20 Tracks of Learning

Jon-Patrick Ewing

The AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo is designed to help you tackle the specific challenges you are facing today. Improving lives by delivering solutions for quality care is the main goal. With over 20 different tracks of learning, you are sure to get exactly what you need and walk away with specific strategies you can implement back home immediately. Browse all the sessions available to you over the four days of convention. From workforce issues to the Requirements of Participation, you'll find the solutions and ideas you seek.

Don’t miss the Sunday, October 7, intensive session on the new Patient-Driven Payment Model (PMPD).  AHCA will present a 4-hour intensive session (repeated on Wednesday, October 10) at this year's Convention & Expo that will help you understand what this means for you and how to best prepare. The PDPM intensive will include an in-depth training on the PDPM payment system. Especially important is that a member tool kit will be introduced that will contain the core competencies framework as well as a readiness review tool that will help you track your operational readiness for PDPM. The intensive will also cover data gathered from 12 companies testing impacts of PDPM and provide hospital and discharge pattern data that could be helpful in member markets. This session is reserved for long term and post-acute care providers only.

Register today and save! The early bird registration deadline in July 20.

Provider Reporting of Adverse Legal Actions

Lilly Hummel

As part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) ongoing focus to reduce provider burden, the agency announced it no longer requires Medicare payment suspensions and CMS-imposed Medicare revocations to be reported. The announcement specifies which Final Adverse Actions must continue to be reported and how to do so. Final Adverse Actions should be reported by Medicare providers and suppliers with new or unreported actions and those individuals listed on an application as having managing control or an ownership interest. The official instructions to Medicare Administrative Contractors are also available.

AHCA Responds to Regulatory Concerns from State AGs

Drew Thies

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma last week responding to concerns the there has been a “rollback” of regulations on skilled nursing facilities.

The letter is in response to a May 30 letter sent by 17 state attorneys general (AG) to CMS saying that federal oversight over SNFs has weakened during the Trump administration. AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson said in the association’s letter that the AG complaints are based on outdated facts and ignore the purpose of the regulatory changes, which is to improve the lives of SNF residents.

David Gifford, MD, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs for AHCA, says, “We were surprised and disappointed” by the way the AGs contextualized the changes CMS made. Dr. Gifford also spoke to the increasing quality in SNFs, particularly in relation to the AHCA Quality Initiative, which started in 2012.

“[T]he data from CMS do not support their claim that these changes have made care worse or that stronger penalties will help improve care,” he said.

AHCA will continue to educate lawmakers about the quality improvements made in the SNF profession and the regulations providers must abide by.

Demonstrate Your Geriatric Nurse Competency with Gero Nurse Prep

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. Registered nurses who are interested in increasing their knowledge of gerontological nursing practice can simply complete the AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep course earn 30 CEUs, and increase their skills and knowledge of geriatric nursing.

AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep is also designed to thoroughly prepare RNs to take the 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 affordable at $690 for 30 CEUs worth of high quality training that gets results. For RNs interested in pursuing Board certification through ANCC, that cost is an additional and separate cost of $395.

Watch this video to learn more about AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep and build a strong geriatric nursing team with AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep.   

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

From Chaos to Focus: The Quality Initiative is Your Answer

Lyn Bentley, MSW

What was your first reaction when you heard about the AHCA/NCAL Quality Initiative? Did you wonder if the Washington, D.C., atmosphere (however you might choose to define that) had gotten into the heads of association leadership? No, it’s not about D.C. It is all about the survey, regulatory and payment changes that have been impacting long-term care at the state and federal level. We have heard from many members that “there is just too much going on – where do I start? How do I do it all? And, oh, by the way, the residents need my focus!”

We agree that times are challenging and we believe that focusing on the Quality Initiative goals will help you to have a plan for meeting many of the challenges.

Nursing Centers
The goals of reducing hospitalizations, increasing customer satisfaction, improving functional outcomes, and reducing antipsychotics are strongly related to your success with the following national priorities:
Instead of worrying about each program, network, requirement, and rating focus on the four goals to achieve success in all areas mentioned.

Assisted Living Communities
The goals of improving staff stability, improving customer satisfaction, reducing hospital readmissions, and reducing antipsychotics all play an important role by:
  • Preparing providers for possible reimbursement changes based on quality outcomes;
  • Focusing on current national priorities and key indicators of quality care;
  • Encouraging efficiency with health care dollars;
  • Promoting consistent data measurement with continuing tracking;
  • Highlighting the importance of goal setting with sustainable improvement; and
  • Fostering person-centered care
The bottom line is this: the Quality Initiative is definitely not “just another thing to do” and it isn’t “yet one more program.” It is a focal point that can keep you on track and help you to be successful in this changing world.

Last Chance to Nominate for AHCA & NCAL Awards - Deadline Extended to June 15!

Time is running out to nominate a long term or post-acute care colleague or volunteer for our national recognition programs. The application deadline for all awards has been extended to Friday, June 15th.

  • Volunteer of Year - 3 categories: Group, Adult and Young Adult
  • ID/DD Hero of the Year
  • Not for Profit Program of the Year
  • Not for Profit Trustee Award
  • Adminstratrator of the Year
  • Nurse of the Year
  • Caregiver of the Year
  • National Assisted Living Week Programming Award
This award recognizes an individual that has made significant national contributions to advancing quality performance in long term and/or post-acute care, including either skilled nursing or assisted living settings. 

Jan Thayer Pioneer Award
This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated dedication and leadership and made considerable contributions to the senior care profession. 

Recipients receive a free trip to San Diego!

The selected recipients of the awards listed above will be recognized in front of thousands of their peers at the 69th AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention and Expo held in San Diego, October 7-10, 2018. Recipients receive complimentary registration to the convention, round-trip airfare, and hotel accommodations. Additional programming and networking events will be available to the honorees.  

Give them the national spotlight! This is the ultimate way to thank and honor a valuable team member for quality caregiving.  

We look forward to reviewing your nomination! The deadline for all awards program nominations is Friday, June 15, 2018.

NADRC Webinar: Enhancing Self-Efficacy in Persons Living with Dementia

June 26, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST

Few attributes of personhood are more zealously protected than self-determination, and few fears more troubling than the fear of losing independence. For people with dementia this can be particularly intense. Using stories taken from experience, Dr. Wehry will illustrate why preserving autonomy and enhancing self-efficacy in people with dementia are important. She'll discuss ways professionals can support individuals living with dementia—and their families—in making decisions, even in the context of diminished decision-making capacity.

Participants will be able to distinguish between autonomy, independence, and self-efficacy; describe approaches to dealing with diminishing decision-making capacity in persons with dementia; discuss the positive benefits of self-efficacy on health and well-being; and, describe ways to enhance self-efficacy in persons with dementia.

About the Presenter

Dr. Susan Wehry, a geriatric psychiatrist with more than 30 years experience, serves as chief of Geriatrics at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.


Registration is required to receive the webinar information.

The Search for an Alzheimer’s Cure

Kiran Sreenivas, MS, CPHQ

A recent article from Quartz explains why there has not been a new treatment for Alzheimer’s in over a decade despite the total cost of caring for all people with the disease expected to reach its highest point of $1 trillion.

There are three main reasons for the lack of progress. The first is neurological symptoms only appear when the disease has progressed to a point that it’s almost impossible to treat. The second is there are no good methods for early detection, even if one is asymptomatic. Third, it’s very difficult to find appropriate candidates for clinical trials given the other reasons mentioned.

These challenges have recently led to several drugs failing in latter phases of FDA clinical trials. In fact, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced in January 2018 it will drop out of the Alzheimer’s drug sector entirely.

With no pharmaceutical advances in sight for Alzheimer’s or dementia, nursing centers and assisted living communities will need to continue to provide the best care possible for this vulnerable population. To stay up to date with the latest and most effective care practices, check out the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Dementia Care Practice Recommendations and the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes. And be sure to access free member resources on ahcancalED!

AHCA/NCAL Hosts Annual Congressional Briefing

Drew Thies

AHCA/NCAL hosted its annual Congressional Briefing in Washington, D.C. Monday and Tuesday, allowing for hundreds of long term and post-acute care providers to gather in the nation’s capital, hear from leading voices in health care policy, and advocate in front of their lawmakers.

Over 400 AHCA/NCAL members from 48 states and the District of Columbia gathered in Washington and met with nearly every Congressional office. The advocates spoke to the increasing quality of care in their facilities despite immense financial pressure on the profession. The group asked that common-sense regulatory relief be given now to prevent contraction of the profession just when the Baby Boomers are aging into retirement.

The event featured several prominent leaders in health care, journalism, and politics. The group heard from Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II, Senator Ben Cardin (D-M.d.), and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein.

Secretary Azar spoke on a number of topics, ranging from the necessity of Health and Human Services to encourage providers to adopt electronic health records to the important role the long term and post-acute care profession has in combatting the opioid crisis. Sen. Cardin also spoke about the importance of these providers and the need for lawmakers to recognize the dire financial situation in which the profession finds itself.

The next Congressional Briefing is already scheduled for June 3-4, 2019 in Washington, D.C. at the Hyatt Regency. In the meantime, AHCA/NCAL members are encouraged to follow up on their Congressional meetings by inviting their lawmakers to tour their buildings this summer.

National Keynote Speakers & Top-Notch Education at the AHCA/NCAL Convention

Jon-Patrick Ewing

AHCA/NCAL has a diverse slate of keynote speakers who will share personal stories of challenge and success that will inspire and motivate you.

Choose from more than 70 sessions with topics to support all professional roles in long term and post-acute care! By attending education sessions from Sunday through Wednesday, attendees can earn up to 16 administrator CEs (separate ticketed sessions can increase CEs). Hear from top-notch speakers with advanced degrees, advanced experience, and a passion to further the profession. Our faculty is ready to share their considerable expertise with you. Register Today!

The early bird registration deadline is July 20, don’t miss it!

IMPACT Act: Frequently Asked Questions Call — June 21

Thursday, June 21 from 2 to 3 pm ET

Register - for Medicare Learning Network events.

During this call, learn more about the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act). CMS answers your frequently asked questions on quality measures, standardized data elements, the CMS data element library, and future directions of the IMPACT Act. A question and answer session follows the presentation.

Target Audience: Post-acute care providers, including skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care hospitals; researchers; administrators; and other industry stakeholders and interested parties.

ROP new toolkit available: Compliance and Ethics Program

Lilly Hummel

Members can now access a new toolkit for creating a compliance and ethics program by November 28, 2019 for Phase 3 of the Requirements of Participation (ROP). Accessing the toolkit requires logging into ahcancalED. This resource is a concise summary of the requirements with helpful, practical tips for implementation. It also pulls in best practices from a variety of sources to support providers in building or improving their program. Creating an effective program requires advanced planning to have in place the appropriate staff, training, and policies and procedures. While waiting for interpretative guidelines to provide additional clarity, the information will help plan for Phase 3 implementation. Please email with questions about accessing this resource.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Veterans Affairs Provider Agreements on Way to Becoming Law

Dana Halvorson

On May 23, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive Veterans Affairs (VA) package (the VA Mission Act of 2018 ), which was recently approved by the House of Representatives, that authorizes VA provider agreements for extended care providers, including nursing centers.  AHCA and our members have been advocating for years for VA provider agreements.  These agreements are supported by the VA yet required new statutory authorization.  The White House has signaled that President Trump will sign this legislation into law.

VA provider agreements allow our centers to care for veterans in their communities or in close proximity to their families and support system.  Our centers already meet very strict compliance guidelines under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Adding more regulations on top of the existing Medicare and Medicaid regulation is inefficient, adds cost and takes staff time away from caring for veterans at the bedside.  It is long-standing policy that participation in Medicare or Medicaid does not make providers federal contractors.  However, if a provider currently has VA patients, they are considered a federal contractor and therefore must comply with statutes such as the Service Contract Act.  The Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has administered onerous reporting requirements and regulations, beyond those required by Medicare and Medicaid rules, which have dissuaded nursing care centers from admitting VA patients.  The result has been limited long term care options for veterans in their local communities.  Our veterans should not have to choose between obtaining the long term care services they need and remaining near loved ones in their community.  Conversely, the same centers contracting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are not subject to the OFCCP regulations.  

Provisions in the VA Mission Act will help remove some of the existing red tape that may prevent providers from being able to provide care to veterans.  The number of facilities able to serve veterans will increase in most areas once qualified providers are able to enter into VA Provider Agreements, broadening options for veterans who need both nursing center care and home and community-based services.  We know that many members are eager to enter into VA provider agreements.  VA staff estimates that it will take at least a year to implement these agreements, pending the issuance of regulations.  AHCA will offer a webinar with officials from the VA in the near future to provide members an opportunity to ask questions about how these agreements might be structured.  Once this webinar date and time is finalized, we will send information to our members.  In the meantime, please contact Dana Halvorson , AHCA's Senior Director of Not for Profit & Constituent Services with questions or comments you'd like to see addressed on the webinar. 

AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo Heads to the Beach

Jon-Patrick Ewing

This October, thousands of leading long term and post-acute care professionals will come together to share ideas, learn about the latest techniques and services, network, and have fun. We’ve got it all: informative education sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and incredible networking opportunities, all set against the backdrop of America’s Finest City. At the center is a show-stopping Expo Hall, where you’ll find the latest products and the solutions to your toughest challenges.

When you’re not learning or making connections, soak up some sun on San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline or explore some of the city’s world-class attractions. Make plans to attend now, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Early bird registration ends July 20. Don’t wait, register today and SAVE!

To learn more about Nurses CE Info, detailed information can be found online.

Build a Strong Dementia Care Team with the CARES® Dementia Specialist (C.D.S.) Professional Credential

Dave Kyllo

Long term care organizations can now build a core team of dementia specialists within their organizations at an affordable price. Train and credential key members of your staff with the CARES® Dementia Specialist™ (C.D.S.) professional credentialing program. Then, when an issue occurs with one of your residents with dementia, staff can direct questions to your on-site CARES Dementia Specialists.

Each member of your team completing the C.D.S. will learn quality dementia care strategies based upon the Alzheimer’s Association’s new Dementia Care Practice Recommendations.  Having caregivers who are credentialed dementia specialists translates to a far more efficient and effective dementia care team and reduces staff reliance on licensed nurses to solve the repetitious questions and issues that arise daily when providing care to residents with dementia. 

By completing the CARES Dementia Specialist training programs, submitting their documentation, passing a required 100-point online C.D.S. credentialing exam, and being approved, staff members will be able to use the C.D.S. credential after their name, on their resume, or on a business card. Staff members will also be placed on a national registry of people who earn and hold a current C.D.S. credential.
The C.D.S. curriculum consists of 32 hours of online, video-based person-centered dementia care education.  Once activated, individuals have 10-day access to each of the six required courses (courses range from 4 to 10 hours).

The C.D.S. courses include:

  • CARES® Dementia Basics™ 
  • CARES® Dementia-Related Behavior™ 
  • CARES® End-of-Life Dementia Care™ 
  • CARES® Dementia Advanced Care™ 
  • CARES® Activities of Daily Living™ 
  • CARES® Dementia Care for Families™  

CARES® is recommended by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living to help reduce the off-label use of antipsychotics. CARES is mobile friendly and available 24/7.

Be sure to take advantage of your exclusive AHCA/NCAL member discount.  AHCA/NCAL members receive a 10% discount on the $499.95 C.D.S. package by using discount code AHCA10 at checkout!  That’s 32 hours of high quality online dementia care training and a professional credential for your key staff members for only $449.95. 

Take advantage of this outstanding offer today, and remember to use discount code AHCA10 when you checkout. 

Don’t Worry. Be Happy…Just Like AHCA/NCAL Infection Control Training Program Customers

Dave Kyllo

The AHCA/NCAL Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) course  is getting rave reviews from those who have completed the course. "The IPCO training was fantastic, very informative, easy to use and organized. I definitely recommend this product for all IPCO, DON and ADON,” says Jesalyn Garcia with Holly Heights Nursing Center. 

Jesalyn isn’t the only IPCO fan.  A solid 97 percent of health care professionals who have completed the AHCA/NCAL Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) course thus far recommend that their colleagues take the course if they are interested in learning more about infection prevention and control and antibiotic stewardship.  That’s because the AHCA/NCAL course delivers!

The on-line 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 for nursing facilities on November 28, 2017.  The training is also beneficial for assisted living centers because the methods for preventing and controlling infections are universal and apply regardless of setting. 

The Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) course provides education for all healthcare professionals who want to lead infection prevention efforts and prepares individuals to play an active role in the antibiotic stewardship efforts.  Antibiotic stewardship is an overarching goal and priority among all health care professionals and is receiving a lot of attention from state and federal health care regulators.     
AHCA/NCAL’s course is an online, self-study program with 23 hours of training.  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. 

The 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.  Strong and effective infection prevention programs and antibiotic stewardship efforts can set nursing facilities and assisted living centers apart from the competition, especially when working with social workers and discharge planners who help seniors with their post-acute decisions.

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

While CMS has announced plans to offer a free infection prevention training course some time in Spring 2019, AHCA/NCAL recommends investing in staff training now rather than waiting at least another year to train staff on the requirements that already are in effect.  Despite the recent CMS training announcement, nursing facilities will continue to be surveyed on all the new infection prevention and control requirements and the antibiotic stewardship requirements – the same requirements leading to the most commonly cited F-Tag since November 2017 under Phase I and Phase II of the CMS Requirements of Participation and the implementation of the new nursing facility survey process.

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 with your name and facility contact information. 

CMS Announces Expanded Settlement Conference Facilitation for Medicare Appeals

Lilly Hummel

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will be expanding the Settlement Conference Facilitation (SCF) process to address the Medicare appeals backlog. SCF is an alternative dispute resolution process that gives providers an opportunity to resolve their Medicare appeals pending with the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) or the Medicare Appeals Council. Notably, unlike other CMS settlement programs, there is not prescribed settlement percentage in SCF. Rather a facilitator uses mediation to assist the provider and CMS work towards a mutually agreeable resolution as to payment. OMHA has published Frequently Asked Questions with more information. The expansion is in the internal implementation phase, and for now CMS suggests providers continue to use existing SCF criteria and processes.

SCF is separate from the Low Volume Appeals Initiative announced in 2017.