Wednesday, September 26, 2018

AHCA/NCAL Future Leaders Meet Lawmakers

Drew Thies

The 2018 AHCA/NCAL Future Leaders are in Washington, D.C. this week to receive leadership training and meet with Members of Congress to discuss issues facing post-acute and long term care providers.

The Future Leader class is the largest ever, with individuals from 40 states attending and participating.

The Future Leaders will be in Washington, D.C. for three days this week to receive leadership training on the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” On Thursday afternoon, they will go to Capitol Hill to educate Members of Congress on quality improvement in post-acute and long term care and speak to the numerous regulations with which providers must comply.

LTC Employees Are Contacting Us Asking “How Can I Enroll in This Health Plan?”

Dave Kyllo

AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions offers a new minimum essential coverage health plan to members.  The new plan was developed by Compass Total Benefit Solutions and offers two new affordable options for providing many of the health insurance benefits that are important to long term care employees with no deductibles and low co-pays.

The plan was built to help AHCA/NCAL members recruit and retain frontline staff who cannot afford major medical health plans and to save members money on their health benefit expenditures.  Employees from member facilities have heard about the new plan and are asking us how they can enroll to get access to the health benefits they want.  The answer:  through their AHCA/NCAL member employer.

The new plans feature affordable premiums and co-pays for valued and commonly used services, including prescriptions, physician visits and free unlimited 24/7 access to TELADOC.  The Compass 1 plan costs about $1 per hour for a full-time employee or $161 per month.  The Compass 2 plan costs $182 per month.  The Compass 2 plan costs a little more because it includes higher indemnity payments for hospitalizations. Here’s the rate schedule:


  Monthly Premiums
Compass 1
Compass 2
EE
$161.29
$181.75
EE & Spouse
$264.70
$306.39
EE & Children
$244.19
$279.94
Family
$356.70
$417.20

The plan was designed with long term care staff members in mind to help those employees who cannot afford Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant plan premiums or the high deductibles associated with many ACA plans.  Even though traditional ACA compliant plans are classified as “affordable,” they are not an option that many long term care employees can afford.

Employers decide the level of contribution for plan expenses for coverage for employees, their spouses, their children or family coverage.  Employers can pay all the costs, share the costs with employees, or have employees pay for coverage completely as a voluntary option.  Or LTC employers can increase their employer contribution over time based on an employee’s length of service.  Both plans are flexible. In addition, employers have options such as covering all the costs for employee coverage but having the employee pay the premiums for their spouse and/or children.

While this new AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions plan satisfies all 71 benefits required under the Affordable Care Act, it is not a fully compliant ACA plan.  It is considered a minimum essential coverage (MEC) plan and should be offered alongside a traditional ACA compliant plan to avoid any ACA employer penalties.

There is no additional underwriting for the Compass plan and no mandatory wait periods for new employees to join the Compass MEC plans.  Any wait periods are determined by the employer.  There is a minimum of five employees that must be enrolled to offer the plan to employees.

The ability to offer a health insurance plan at little to no cost to employees allows AHCA/NCAL members to market their facilities as superior employers in comparison to competing employers.   This plan is much less expensive to an employer compared to a traditional employee health benefit plan and costs less than the expense of an employee who turns over.

Read this Q&A document for more information about Compass plans for AHCA/NCAL members. Versions of the Compass Plan are available in all 50 states. Changes to the Hospital Indemnity benefit vary based on state approvals.

To see what's available in your state, please contact Nick Cianci at 202-898-2841 or Dave Kyllo at 202-898-6312 or email ahcainsurancesolutions@ahca.org.  For those attending the AHCA/NCAL annual convention in San Diego October 7-10, stop by Booth 1722 in the Expo Hall on Monday or Tuesday to learn more about this cost saving plan!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It’s Time to Learn How Much You’re Donating To Your Utility Companies in Monthly Overpayments

Dave Kyllo

Most long term care facilities (about 75%) are being overcharged for one or more of their utilities.  Cleary Energy is a AHCA/NCAL preferred provider and has recouped on average 4% to 8% savings on utilities for long term care facility customers. That’s a significant savings!

Cleary Energy performs utility bill audits by examining utility, supplier and government charges on utility bills to obtain refunds and/or credits and rate reductions.  Specifically, Cleary Energy audits a facility’s electric, natural gas, propane, heating oil, diesel fuel, water, sewer and telecommunications bills.

The program is designed to save AHCA/NCAL members significant money on their utility bills without adding new expenses to their budgets.  Cleary Energy guarantees savings or its auditing services are free.  Cleary Energy’s fees are based on facility savings on their utility bills.

Here’s how it works.  AHCA/NCAL member facilities enter into an audit agreement with Cleary Energy, which is a shared savings agreement that lasts for a period of three years.  If no refund, savings or credits are received, the AHCA/NCAL member facility owes nothing to Cleary Energy for conducting the audit and AHCA/NCAL members will have the peace of mind of knowing that their facilities are not being overcharged for their utilities.  

The process for engaging Cleary Energy to conduct a utility audit is easy.  Most of the information Cleary Energy needs to complete an audit comes directly from the utilities or suppliers.

Cleary Energy’s long term care experience sets the company apart. The founder of Cleary Energy has 40 years of long term care experience and has spent the last seven years specializing in finding energy cost savings for skilled nursing, assisted living and senior living centers.  That in-depth knowledge of long term care operations enables Cleary Energy to find the greatest costs savings on utility expenses for AHCA/NCAL members because Cleary Energy knows where to look for savings.

Take advantage of this unique no-risk opportunity to save on utility costs.  Contact Cleary Energy today in one of the three ways listed below. 

Be sure to stop by the Cleary Energy Booth #1324 in the Expo Hall at the AHCA/NCAL 69th annual convention to learn how easy it is to stop over-paying your utility companies. 

The AHCA/NCAL Infection Control Training Program That Gets Results

Dave Kyllo

The AHCA/NCAL Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) course is getting rave reviews from facilities that have implemented what their staff learned from the course. Here’s what Janet Snipes, Executive Director of Holly Heights Nursing Center in Denver, Colorado, had to say about the results of the IPCO training program:

“We had a team of contract surveyors who were from four different states. They were extremely complimentary of our infection control program.  All four surveyors were in the room and met with Jesalyn (Infection Preventionist at Holly Heights) for about 90 minutes. At the end of the meeting, they stated how impressed they were with her knowledge, expertise, tracking and antibiotic stewardship!  They stated they hadn’t seen this type of infection control program in other facilities.  She told them about AHCA’s IPCO course and the knowledge she had gained that allowed her to put together our program.”  

A solid 96 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 online 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.

The training course registration fee is $450 for AHCA/NCAL members and $650 for non-members.  There are no refunds and no transfers.  Payment and registration must be made online in ahcancalED.  The IPCO course can be accessed here or at: https://educate.ahcancal.org/p/ipco.  
Discounted group purchase rates are available for groups of 25 or more. Those interested in making a group purchase should email AHCA at educate@ahca.org.

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 until sometime next year to train staff on the requirements that already are in effect.  That’s because nursing facilities 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.

If you’re attending the AHCA/NCAL 69th Annual Convention and Expo in San Diego, stop by the AHCA/NCAL Quality Booth near the Registration Desk to learn more about how the IPCO training program can help build solid infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship programs in your facility.

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

Be Seen Like Never Before: Our $250 Sale Price Gets Your Job Posting Connected Nationwide to Nearly 300 Health Care Associations and Professional Societies

Dave Kyllo

Serious health care candidates look for jobs on the national job board network built for health care professionals.  Lead them to your job vacancy through the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center.  The LTC Career Center is designed to help members be competitive in attracting qualified candidates to fill their health care positions.

Rates for posting job vacancies have never been more affordable.  Now through October 31, open positions can be posted on the AHCA/NCAL Long Term Care Career Center for $250 per 30-day posting when employers use promo code FALL100.  That’s $100 off the normal low AHCA/NCAL rate of $350 and is the lowest sale price of 2018!

The LTC Career Center gives unprecedented targeted exposure because it connects with the Health Care Career Network by providing visibility on the network’s 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.

The $250 for a 30-day posting gives even more value because 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 FALL100 to save $100 on your job postings.  Employers may use the code an unlimited number of times between now and October 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.   

Access Archived Webinar on Compliance Considerations for Assisted Living

Lilly Hummel

The National Center for Assisted Living recently hosted a webinar providing an overview of how health care compliance programs are relevant for assisted living communities. Members can access the recording by following these steps:
  1. Go to https://educate.ahcancal.org/products/compliance-considerations-for-assisted-living-communities and log in using your username and password.
  2. Once the page opens, click on the “View Archived Recording" button on the right hand side of the page. The presentation will open in a new window for you to view and hear the program.
  3. Click on the Handout tab to download your copy of the handouts and other available materials.
For questions or support, please email ahca@commpartners.com.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Assisted Living Providers: NCAL Day is Speaking Your Language


Sunday, October 7 | 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM
San Diego Convention Center

Join your assisted living peers for a full day of thought-provoking education specifically tailored to this sector of long term care. NCAL Day covers the hottest topics in assisted living today, with an inspiring keynote, and a chance to honor the best caregivers in the profession.

Earn up to 6.5 Administrator CEUs at NCAL Day (Nurse CEs still being determined) thanks to a full day of sessions:


NCAL Day Keynote: Robyn Benincasa 
World Champion Adventure Racer, Full Time Firefighter, 3x Guinness World Record Endurance Kayaker

Through her unique experiences, Robyn has emerged with a refreshing and truly unique perspective on what it takes to build the kind of World Class Teams that succeed against all odds, that triumph in the face of adversity and that win as one in times of great challenge and change. 

Other sessions and events at NCAL Day include:
  • From Theory to Practice: How to Improve Job Satisfaction and Retention with the 7/30/60 Day Engagement Model  -  This presentation provides a model to operationalize individual employee engagement during the first 90 days of employment—the most critical period. 
  • Are You Still Using Horses or Are You Henry Ford? Learn about the latest technologies that can change the quality of care in the next five years, resulting in higher-performing organizations.
  • NCAL Awards Ceremony and Luncheon - Help us celebrate those who go above and beyond the call of duty by honoring the 2018 recipient of the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award and the recipients of the 2018 NCAL Awards Program.
  • Improv and Dementia: Learning to Say "Yes and" When Interacting with Residents with Dementia - This train-the-trainer program will give you vital tools to teach caregivers how to use improv theater skills in their interactions with residents with dementia.
  • Providing Mental Health Care in Assisted Living - Better understand mental and behavioral health diagnoses, how to screen for them, and how best to support residents with these diagnoses.
  • Trends in Senior Housing: How Do We Thrive from Now Until 2025? - Panelists Robert Kramer of the National Investment Center and Dr. David Grabowski of Harvard, along with moderator Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, will discuss economic trends in senior living and how they could impact your business. 
Start your Convention experience on the right foot.

Be sure to also check out our assisted living education track available throughout the rest of the week.

NCAL Day is a separate ticketed event and must be purchased in addition to any convention registration package. 


NCAL Day is sponsored by the following partners:













Your Quality Initiative Progress is a LTC Trend Tracker℠ Publication

Lonnita Myles

Have you heard the news? Your Quality Initiative Progress is a LTC Trend Tracker℠ publication that includes metrics and graphics outlining individual center's progress through the four goals of both the AHCA and NCAL Quality Initiative.

Distributed semi-annually, the report also includes links to member resources that help with specific goals. Login to LTC Trend Tracker to view yours today! Need help with accessing LTC Trend Tracker?  Feel free to email help@ltcttendtracker.com.

Medical Items Removed from Tariff List

Drew Thies

Various medical items, including soaps and rubber gloves, were removed from a list of potential tariffs shortly before the list was made final Tuesday evening. The list details approximately $200 billion in goods that the United States imports from China.

The Trump administration first announced the new tariff regimen in July, detailing hundreds of products that would be subject to increased tariffs in an effort to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China. AHCA/NCAL sent a joint letter along with the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) asking for the medical items to be removed from the initial list, noting the financial burden the tariffs would put on long term and post-acute care providers.

For items still on the finalized list, a 10 percent tariff will be applied starting September 24 of this year, increasing to 25 percent on January 1, 2019. The list contains 5,745 of the original 6,031 tariff lines that were on the proposed list.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Loss Protection from Cyber Criminals is Key to Avoiding Devastating Financial Consequences

Dave Kyllo

Headlines about data breaches and cyber extortion are commonplace.  Those same cyber threats are real for long term care communities of all sizes.  Protecting your long term care community against these threats is essential.

Before purchasing cyber liability insurance, it’s important to understand critical cyber risks facing businesses today and what risks long term care providers should insure against.  Below are examples of key components of a comprehensive cyber liability insurance policy:
  • Security & Privacy Liability – A cyber thief hacks your facility’s computer system and steals the personal data of past and current residents/patients.  Your facility gets sued for $1 million on behalf of several resident families for the negligent unauthorized release of personal information.   
  • Breach Event Costs – The cost of notifying all the victims of the data breach and their families can be staggering as can the public relations expense of explaining what went wrong.
  • Regulatory Fines and Proceeding Coverage – Regulators will likely be interested in the cause of your data breach and whether your response followed state and federal laws.   Coverage includes paying for your legal counsel, hearing expenses and any fines where insurable under the law. 
  • Multimedia Liability – This includes protection should your facility’s logo be similar to another company’s logo or should your website contain content that is copyrighted or trade-marked by others. 
  • Network Asset Protection – Hackers may destroy software and the information/data stored in your computers.  This coverage pays for the expenses to replace or restore software and data.
  • Business Interruption Income Loss – Facility revenue may be impacted through a tainted reputation following a data breach.  Insuring against this risk pays for the reduction in profit and extra costs such as renting a replacement computer system.
  • Cyber Extortion – Possibly one of the most talked about cyber security risks is “ransomware” – a computer virus that freezes your computer system until the demanded ransom is paid.  The insurance pays for expert advice on how to retrieve your system, negotiate with the hackers and pay any ransom if necessary.

HealthCap is the AHCA/NCAL endorsed carrier for liability insurance and cyber liability coverage.  The company’s sole focus is serving the needs of long term care providers, including assisted living.  HealthCap® carrier partners offer cyber liability insurance and it is not necessary for a long term care provider to have General or Professional liability insurance through HealthCap to purchase cyber liability insurance through HealthCap’s carrier partners.

For more information about HealthCap’s comprehensive suite of data security and privacy insurance solutions and to find a local agent, contact Stephanie Hale at Stephanie.Hale@chelsearhone.com

Discover Exclusive AHCA/NCAL Member Savings Opportunities in the AHCA/NCAL Convention Expo Hall!

Dave Kyllo

AHCA/NCAL members receive special “member only” savings from select premier partners in AHCA/NCAL’s Preferred Provider Program.  Learn more about these exclusive savings programs by visiting these booths in the AHCA/NCAL Convention Expo Hall in San Diego at the 69th Annual AHCA/NCAL Convention and Expo held October 7-10.

HealthCap®      Booth #1215
HealthCap is the premier AHCA/NCAL endorsed insurance program providing liability insurance to the senior care sector!   

HealthCap clients have both lower claims frequency and lower claims serverity than other major liability insurance carriers– two powerful reasons why AHCA/NCAL members rave about HealthCap.  Another plus – AHCA/NCAL members receive a 10% discount on their HealthCap premiums.  Starting this year, HealthCap also offers Cyber Liability Insurance through their carrier partners.  Visit the HealthCap team to learn more.

AHCA/NCAL Gero Nurse Prep      Booth #1724
A Real World Competency Solution for Your RN’s Real World!  

Gero Nurse Prep prepares RNs for the ANCC Board Certification exam in gerontological nursing and increases geriatric nurse competency by 24% based on pre- and post-course test scores.  Visit with Dr. Heidi Keeler to learn how Gero Nurse Prep can help strengthen your clinical performance and increase reimbursements

AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions/Compass Total Benefit Solutions      Booth #1722
Discover the New Affordable Health Plan Designed to Help AHCA/NCAL Members Recruit and Retain Staff!

With premiums under $162 a month per employee, this new Compass plan delivers the health benefits employees want with no deductibles and low co-pays.  Employer contributions can range from 0 to 100% and there is no underwriting!  Stop by and ask the Insurance Solutions team how this plan can cut employee benefit costs and make your facility a more attractive and lucrative place to work.     

Cleary Energy      Booth #1324
Stop being overcharged on your utility bills with Cleary Energy!

Most (75%) of LTC facilities are being overcharged on their utilities. Cleary Energy has recouped on average 4% to 8% savings on utilities for long term care facility customers through its exclusive utility audit program. If no refund, savings or credits are received, AHCA/NCAL member facilities owe nothing to Cleary Energy for conducting the utility audit and you’ll know you’re not overpaying.  Drop by to meet Dennis Cleary and learn how easy it is to start saving on your utility bills.

CARES® Online Dementia Training      Booth #641
CARES® is the only online dementia care training recognized by CMS!  

CARES® delivers affordable, high quality, video-based online training for staff at all levels to meet state and federal training requirements. CARES is also an approved curriculum that qualifies users to take the Alzheimer’s Association essentiALZ® certification exam. CARES® is recommended by AHCA/NCAL to help reduce the off-label use of antipsychotics.

American College of Health Care Administrators      Booth #2242
Be more than licensed.  Take Your Career to the Next Level with ACHCA!

The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) is the catalyst for excellence in post-acute and aging services leadership. Distinguish yourself as a Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA) or a Certified Nurse Home Administrator (CNHA) through ACHCA. Visit the ACHCA booth to learn more about how to achieve a higher level of professional recognition of your skills and knowledge by being credentialed through ACHCA.  

Convention & Expo Advance Registration Ends This Friday



After this Friday, you must register onsite at Convention. Register now and save up to $100. Numerous packages are available. Find the one that meets your needs.

Convention has so much to offer, and we can't wait to host you. From the exciting speakers to the invaluable education sessions, you'll enjoy every minute of the learning, networking, idea sharing, and just plain fun that is set to take place at the San Diego Convention Center next month. Register to attend, and bring your staff!

Make it your priority, and register today

Friday, September 14, 2018

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Dana Halvorson and Erin Prendergast 

Get ready for National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), which is observed every October. It was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. 2018 marks the 15th year of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Cybersecurity is especially important to members as the healthcare industry is expected to remain one of the most targeted sectors by cyber attackers.

NCSAM 2018 also marks the 8th anniversary of the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ campaign. Each year, NCSAM highlights the overall message of STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ and the capstone concepts of the campaign, like “Keep a Clean Machine,” “Protect Your Personal Information,” “Connect with Care,” “Be Web Wise,” “Be a Good Online Citizen,” “Own Your Online Presence” and “Lock Down Your Login.”

More on NCSAM can be found on the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) website here

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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 www.nabweb.org.

For more information about ACHCA certification, go to www.achca.org/certification or call 1-800-561-3148.  In addition, ACHCA will be exhibiting at Booth #2242 at the AHCA/NCAL 69th annual convention in San Diego.

Decrease Your Odds of Getting the #1 Cited F Tag with AHCA/NCAL’s Highly Rated Infection Prevention and Control Training

Dave Kyllo

The most frequently cited F-Tag in standard nursing facility health inspection surveys under the new survey process is F880 – Infection Prevention & Control.  Since November 2017 when the new survey process began, more than one-third of surveys conducted across the nation have included a F880 Infection Prevention & Control citation.

AHCA’s Infection Preventionist Specialized Training (IPCO) program is specially designed to prepare individuals to effectively implement and manage an Infection Prevention & Control program in skilled nursing centers. It addresses both clinical and organizational systems, processes and cultural aspects of infection prevention and control which are fundamental to effectively leading and administering a center’s Infection Prevention & Control program.

AHCA’s course is an online, self-study program with 23 hours of training that meets the educational requirements outlined by CMS. It includes online lectures, case studies and interactive components taught by subject matter experts who have real life experience working in long term/post-acute care.  The AHCA program gets rave reviews with 96 percent of health care professionals who have completed the course recommending IPCO to their colleagues.

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.   Upon successful completion of this program, participants will receive certificates including 23 ANCC contact hours.

The training course registration fee is $450 for AHCA/NCAL members and $650 for non-members.  There are no refunds and no transfers.  Payment and registration must be made online in ahcancalED. The IPCO course can be accessed here or at: https://educate.ahcancal.org/p/ipco. Discounted group purchase rates are available for groups of 25 or more.  Those interested in making a group purchase should email AHCA at educate@ahca.org.  

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, 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 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 update@ahca.org with your name and facility contact information.

Avoid the F880 tag. Prepare your center and staff now for success in infection prevention and control under the new survey process: Register for IPCO!

Take Advantage of This No-Risk Opportunity to Potentially Save Thousands of Dollars Annually on Your Facility’s Utility Bills

Dave Kyllo

Most long term care facilities (about 75%) are being overcharged for one or more of their utilities.  Cleary Energy is a AHCA/NCAL preferred provider and has recouped on average 4% to 8% savings on utilities for long term care facility customers. That’s a significant savings!

Cleary Energy performs utility bill audits by examining utility, supplier and government charges on utility bills to obtain refunds and/or credits and rate reductions.  Specifically, Cleary Energy audits a facility’s electric, natural gas, propane, heating oil, diesel fuel, water, sewer and telecommunications bills.

The program is designed to save AHCA/NCAL members significant money on their utility bills without adding new expenses to their budgets.  Cleary Energy guarantees savings or its auditing services are free.  Cleary Energy’s fees are based on facility savings on their utility bills.

Here’s how it works. AHCA/NCAL member facilities enter into an audit agreement with Cleary Energy, which is a shared savings agreement that lasts for a period of three years.  If no refund, savings or credits are received, the AHCA/NCAL member facility owes nothing to Cleary Energy for conducting the audit and AHCA/NCAL members will have the peace of mind of knowing that their facilities are not being overcharged for their utilities.  

The process for engaging Cleary Energy to conduct a utility audit is easy.  Most of the information Cleary Energy needs to complete an audit comes directly from the utilities or suppliers.

Cleary Energy’s long term care experience sets the company apart. The founder of Cleary Energy has 40 years of long term care experience and has spent the last seven years specializing in finding energy cost savings for skilled nursing, assisted living and senior living centers.  That in-depth knowledge of long term care operations enables Cleary Energy to find the greatest costs savings on utility expenses for AHCA/NCAL members because Cleary Energy knows where to look for savings.

Take advantage of this unique no-risk opportunity to save on utility costs.  Contact Cleary Energy today in one of the three ways listed below.
Be sure to stop by the Cleary Energy Booth #1324 in the Expo Hall at the AHCA/NCAL 69th annual convention to learn how easy it is to stop over-paying your utility companies. 

The Provider Reimbursement Review Board Issues Updated Rules

Lilly Hummel

The Provider Reimbursement Review Board (PRRB)  issued updated Rules effective immediately. The PRRB has jurisdiction over Medicare Part A claims where the individual appeal request has a total amount in controversy of at least $10,000 at the time of the filing. The PRRB is also moving to an electronic filing system to improve efficiency. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also released a User Manual to help providers transition to electronic filing.

Join us at our Annual Convention to be part of AHCA’s PDPM Resource Center kick-off!


REGISTER TODAY
ADVANCE REGISTRATION ENDS NEXT WEEK

https://www.eventscribe.com/2018/AHCANCAL/aaStatic.asp?SFP=S1JQSEtSVk5AMTM3Ng
The AHCA Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) Intensives will go beyond typical PDPM basic training on the new Skilled Nursing Facility payment system that will replace RUGs on October 1, 2019.  In addition to PDPM basics, AHCA will unveil phase one of a series of strategic tools and resources to aid members preparing for and transiting to PDPM.  AHCA’s tools and resources, available only to members, will be updated as CMS releases additional detail on PDPM and the transition process.  The AHCA PDPM Intensives also will offer in-depth dialogue among members who have launched PDPM preparation efforts.

AHCA is offering two opportunities to participate in the PDPM Intensive at convention. The options are Sunday, October 7, 1:00pm – 5:00pm and Wednesday, October 10, 10:30am – 3:30pm. 

If you haven’t yet registered for convention, now is the time. The Advanced Registration deadline is September 21. Register now, and take advantage of this chance to save!

Attendance at the PDPM Intensive: The PDPM intensive sessions will be open to all convention attendees who have purchased a Sunday Only, Wednesday Only, Full or Premium meeting package possessing an Attendee, Sunday, or Wednesday badge. All other badge holders will not be given access. Access to PDPM proprietary tools will be provided via e-mail to SNF provider members only via e-mail at the conclusion of the convention.

AHCA/NCAL Submits Comments on CY 2019 Medicare Part B Fee Schedule Proposed Rule

Dan Ciolek

On September 10, AHCA/NCAL submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in response to a July 27, 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) pertaining to the calendar year (CY 2019) Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule.  Medicare Part B pays for physician services, physical, occupational, and speech therapy services, some equipment and supplies, and some drugs and biologics furnished to outpatients, and under consolidated billing provisions, also pays SNFs for therapies for residents that are not otherwise eligible for Part A coverage.    

The AHCA/NCAL comments focused on five areas:
  1. Therapy Services – CMS proposed several policies related to coding and payment Part B therapy for therapy assistants that are required as part of the pay-for’s for the therapy cap repeal legislation passed earlier this year in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA).  AHCA/NCAL recommended improvements to the definitions of key new terminology to make the policy clearer, and to protect access for patients with more complex needs.  On an unrelated therapy issue, CMS proposed to eliminate burdensome and ineffective reporting requirements related to function.  AHCA/NCAL supported the proposed elimination of the burdensome and unnecessary requirements.
  2. Communication Technology-Based Services – CMS proposed new telecommunication-based codes that fall outside of Medicare telehealth legislation limitations as well as discussed potential changes to existing telehealth policies.  AHCA/NCAL commented on opportunities to increase communication technology-based services for SNF residents, and to reduce SNF telehealth limitations so that they are consistent with other inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) and long term care hospital (LTCH) post-acute care (PAC) provider settings.
  3. Physician E&M code policy changes – CMS proposed reducing some documentation burden on office-based services and also collapsing payment rates for the highest intensity evaluation and management services (which impacts geriatricians and other specialties that commonly care for the disables and elderly and SNF residents).  While not directly impact physician services furnished in the SNF, the policy could discourage physicians from working with this growing population hurting the available SNF physician workforce.  AHCA/NCAL spoke to these concerns.
  4. Updates to the Part B fee-schedule-based Quality Reporting Program – CMS has not recognized facility-based Part B therapy services/therapists (including SNF) as being eligible for the Part B merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) and alternative payment models (APM) fee schedule-based incentive programs, although PTs and OTs in private practice will become eligible if the rule is finalized.  AHCA/NCAL cited concerns that this oversight will create unbalanced quality and payment systems as nearly two-thirds of therapy providers (including SNF) will remain ineligible for the quality incentives, and suggested an approach to move towards making this happen in the future.
  5. Request for Information on Interoperability – This is the same request that AHCA submitted comments for in the recent SNF PPS FY 2019 NPRM.  AHCA/NCAL reiterated and updated those previously submitted comments that cited funding concerns, and offered practical suggestions to encourage increased operability without adding unnecessary administrative burdens.   
Please contact AHCA’s Associate Vice President, Therapy Advocacy Dan Ciolek if you have questions.

National Influenza Survey Open Enrollment – Help Spread the Word

A team of nationally recognized long term care researchers from Brown University led by Stefan Gravenstein, MD, MPH, and Vincent Mor, PhD, are undertaking a large-scale quality improvement study to evaluate the impact of the annual influenza vaccine on long term care residents' hospitalization risk for the 2018 influenza season. 

AHCA/NCAL recommends that members consider participating in this national study. Please help spread the word and share with your colleagues and peers.

Nursing centers that meet eligibility and agree to participate will be asked to complete a short survey and receive financial compensation of $150.

If you are interested in participating in this important project, please call or email the study coordinating center, Insight Therapeutics, LLC, at 757-625-6040 or NHFlustudy@inther.com.

Friday, September 7, 2018

PBJ Update! New Report Available

Urvi Patel

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that a new report for Payroll Based Journal (PBJ) is now available for providers, The Job Title Report (1703D). This report details the submitted staffing hours for select job title(s) during a specified period. Providers are encouraged to utilize this report, along with the CASPER based PBJ reports, to check the accuracy of their submissions. More information on each of these reports can be found here. Data from July 1 - September 30, 2018 is due on November 14.

For questions, please contact the AHCA PBJ team here

Coalition Fights to Keep Medical Expense Deductions in Place

Dana Halvorson

An AARP-led coalition that includes the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) delivered a letter on Sept. 6 to leading U.S. Senators asking them to continue their fight to maintain the medical expense deduction, which was temporarily extended through 2018 in last year’s tax cut law.  The coalition sent their message to Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), thanking the trio for their leadership in preserving the medical expense deduction last year and urging their continued assistance in keeping it in place after this year.  Pointing to the long history of the deduction, the letter said for the past 75 years Americans with high health care costs have been able to deduct medical expenses from their taxes.  AHCA/NCAL has said that many of these individuals are in long term care, thus making it a significant issue for our members.  Some of the other members of the coalition include the Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association, American Psychological Association, March of Dimes, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

Opioid Use and Persons Living with Dementia

Lyn Bentley

The CMS National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care and Quality Assurance Performance Improvement has scheduled a call for September 18 that will  provide insight on opioid use in the post-acute and long-term care setting.  The impact of opioid use on persons living with dementia will be discussed.  To register for this call, go to Dementia Care: Opioid Use & Impact for Persons Living with Dementia Call — September 18.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Prevent a Workforce Crisis with Innovative Technology

Rachel Reeves

"Don't find fault, find a remedy." - Henry Ford

Now more than ever before, assisted living providers have to be increasingly efficient while still providing the utmost care. New and emerging care technologies can offer solutions for improving quality care, addressing staffing shortages, and yielding organizational success.

NCAL Day at the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo offers a forward-thinking session, “Are You Still Using Horses or Are You Henry Ford?” Join us Sunday, October 7 at the San Diego Convention Center to stay ahead of the curve.

This presentation will focus on technologies that can change the quality of care, resulting in higher-performing organizations. Learn about six specific technologies that can revolutionize the senior living environment within the next five years: 
Presenter: Lisa Cini
  • Sensors and wearable technology 
  • OLED lighting 
  • Crowd sourcing and gamification 
  • Robotics 
  • Data mining and artificial intelligence 
  • Mobility 
The Presenter: Lisa Cini, IIDA, ASID, CHID, PMP
President & CEO of Mosaic Design Studio / Best Living Tech

A global senior living design, project management and procurement company, Mosaic’s mission is to "Improve Quality of Life By Design." Under Lisa’s leadership, Mosaic has helped a diverse clientele achieve success on far-reaching projects, including: top global senior living operators, The US Air Force, The US Navy, the NHL, and The OhioHealth Hospital System.

Lisa is regarded as the leading Alzheimer's and long-term care design expert in the nation and has been recognized for her contributions in the field. She just launched www.BestLivingTech.com in which she curates the best products to Embrace Living as we age. (Think Sharper Image meets AARP!) 

Don't be left stuck in the past. Lead your assisted living organization into the future. "Are You Still Using Horses or Are You Henry Ford?" will discuss how emerging technology can positively impact staff and customer satisfaction, which ultimately results in higher systems performance.

Look at examples of early adopters, including leading global industries, scientists, and XPRIZE tech picks. And learn from individual LTC facilities that have seen measurable results: positive therapy outcomes. Faster communications. More accurate initial assessments....All of which support targeted quality initiatives for assisted living and long term care facilities.

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.

Save up to $100 when you register by September 21st.

NCAL Day is sponsored by the following partners:



  




House Hearing on Nursing Home Quality

Drew Thies

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight on Investigations will hold a hearing on Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) quality this week, Thursday, September 6. The hearing is entitled, “Examining Federal Efforts to Ensure Quality of Care and Resident Safety in Nursing Homes.”

The press release states the hearing will “examine reports of abuse, neglect, and substandard care” in SNFs, the role of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “relating to the management and safety of these facilities,” and recent (Office of Inspector General) OIG and Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on SNF quality. The hearing follows a April 2018 letter from the committee to CMS about claims of nursing home abuse, particularly in the wake of the Hurricane Irma.

The following witnesses have been confirmed to testify: Kate Goodrich, M.D., Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, and Chief Medical Officer, CMS; Ruth Ann Dorrill, Regional Inspector General, OIG, HHS; and John Dicken, Director, Health Care, GAO.

The hearing will take place at 10:15 AM, EST in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. It can be live streamed at the Energy and Commerce Committee's website. AHCA is briefing members of the committee on improvements in SNF quality and will monitor the hearing closely.

Does Your Emergency Preparedness Program Plan Crosswalk to CMS’ Guidelines?

Dave Kyllo

Nursing facilities (SNFs/NFs) and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID) must comply with sweeping regulations affecting their emergency preparedness planning.   These requirements took effect November 15, 2017 and include:
  • Annual Risk Assessment and Emergency Planning
  • Communication Plan
  • Emergency Preparedness Policies and Procedures (must be reviewed annually)
  • Training and Testing

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

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

Be confident that you have an emergency preparedness plan that correlates to CMS” guidelines.  Order the customizable EPP plan today through the AHCA/NCAL Bookstore and save $100 off the regular $495 price.  

Consider This Affordable Solution for Frontline Staff Recruitment and Retention

Dave Kyllo

AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions now offers a minimum essential coverage health plan to members.  The new plan was developed by Compass Total Benefit Solutions and offers two new affordable options for providing many of the health insurance benefits that are important to long term care employees.  The plan was built to help AHCA/NCAL members recruit and retain frontline staff who cannot afford major medical health plans. 

The new plans feature affordable premiums and co-pays for valued and commonly used services, including prescriptions, physician visits and free unlimited 24/7 access to TELADOC.  The Compass 1 plan costs about $1 per hour for a full-time employee or $161 per month.  The Compass 2 plan costs $182 per month.  The Compass 2 plan costs a little more because it includes higher indemnity payments for hospitalizations. Here’s the rate schedule:

  Monthly Premiums
Compass 1
Compass 2
EE
$161.29
$181.75
EE & Spouse
$264.70
$306.39
EE & Children
$244.19
$279.94
Family
$356.70
$417.20

The plan was designed with long term care staff members in mind to help those employees who cannot afford Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant plan premiums or the high deductibles associated with many ACA plans.  Even though traditional ACA compliant plans are classified as “affordable,” they are not an option that many long term care employees can afford.  

Employers decide the level of contribution for plan expenses for coverage for employees, their spouses, their children or family coverage.  Employers can pay all the costs, share the costs with employees, or have employees pay for coverage completely as a voluntary option.  Or LTC employers can increase their employer contribution over time based on an employee’s length of service.  Both plans are flexible. In addition, employers have options such as covering all the costs for employee coverage but having the employee pay the premiums for their spouse and/or children. 

While this new AHCA/NCAL Insurance Solutions plan satisfies all 71 benefits required under the Affordable Care Act, it is not a fully compliant ACA plan.  It is considered a minimum essential coverage (MEC) plan and should be offered alongside a traditional ACA compliant plan to avoid any ACA employer penalties. 

There is no additional underwriting for the Compass plan and no mandatory wait periods for new employees to join the Compass MEC plans.  Any wait periods are determined by the employer.  There is a minimum of five employees that must be enrolled to offer the plan to employees.

The ability to offer a health insurance plan at little to no cost to employees allows AHCA/NCAL members to market their facilities as superior employers in comparison to competing employers.   This plan is much less expensive to an employer compared to a traditional employee health benefit plan and costs less than the expense of an employee who turns over.

Read this Q&A document for more information about Compass plans for AHCA/NCAL members. Versions of the Compass Plan are available in all 50 states. Changes to the Hospital Indemnity benefit vary based on state approvals. To see what's available in your state, please
contact Nick Cianci at 202-898-2841 or Dave Kyllo at 202-898-6312 or email ahcainsurancesolutions@ahca.org.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

September is National Preparedness Month - Informative Emergency Preparedness Resources Are Available

Dana Halvorson and Erin Prendergast

September 2018 marks, among other observances, National Preparedness Month.  National Preparedness Month, recognized each September, provides an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our residents now and throughout the year.  This year, the focus is on planning, with an overarching theme: “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.” Take this time to review your facility and community-based risk assessment/hazard vulnerability.  All components of a center’s emergency program (emergency plan, policy and procedures, communication plan and training and testing) must be reviewed and updated annually.  

That being said, AHCA/NCAL has several informative emergency preparedness resources that you might be interested in.  We offer a tool titled “Emergency Preparedness Program (EPP) Customizable Plan for Long Term Care” that allows facilities to customize compliant emergency preparedness program plans.  This indispensable tool provides a clear-cut detailed crosswalk that shows how a facility’s EPP plan meets the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ requirements and demonstrates precise compliance to survey agencies and Authorities Having Jurisdiction.  AHCA/NCAL members receive exclusive “member only” pricing of $395 for the EPP customizable plan – a savings of $100 off the regular price. 

Members should also visit the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (ASPR TRACIE) website for additional resources for long term care centers.

Finally, there will be educational session around emergency preparedness at the AHCA/NCAL National Convention in San Diego, on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at 9:30 – 11 am PT entitled “Understanding the Value of the Long Term Care Community’s Engagement Within a Healthcare Coalition.”  More details on this session can be found here.  Please contact Erin Prendergast (SNF and AL Providers) or Dana Halvorson (ICF/IID Providers) with any questions. 

New DOL Websites for Employees and Companies

Lilly Hummel

The Department of Labor (DOL) has created a new office and two new websites in help ensure compliance with federal labor laws and regulations. The new websites are worker.gov and employer.gov, which aim to help employees and companies, respectively, understand their rights and obligations related to wages, workplace safety and health, retirement security and other issues. The websites incorporate information from many different federal agencies, including DOL, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Labor Relations Board. The new Office of Compliance Initiatives will be a cross-agency effort coordinated by the department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy.