Featured

 

 

Provider Groups Decry Cuts to Medicare in Middle of Global Pandemic<p>The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), along with a large coalition of health care provider groups, has registered their objections to “arbitrary” cuts in Medicare spending for next year, saying the timing is especially wrong given the fact the country and world is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p>At issue is this week’s release by the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) of its Calendar Year 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) <a href="https&#58;//www.cms.gov/files/document/12120-pfs-final-rule.pdf">Final Rule </a>and associated <a href="https&#58;//www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/final-policy-payment-and-quality-provisions-changes-medicare-physician-fee-schedule-calendar-year-1">Fact Sheet,</a> which establishes payment rates and other provisions related to Medicare Part B services.</p><p>Services impacted include those received by residents of nursing facilities, assisted living communities, and residences for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The final rule is effective Jan. 1, 2021, and lists drastic payment rate cuts to physician skilled nursing facility visits, physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, portable X-rays, and other Medicare Part B-covered services. </p><p>AHCA/NCAL and other health care provider organizations are seriously concerned that during the middle of a global pandemic is not the time to reduce payments to essential Medicare providers by an average of nearly 10 percent and are <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Reimbursement/Documents/E.M%20Coalition%20Press%20Statement.Final%20Rule.12-1-20.pdf">asking</a> for Congress to include legislation in any year-end 2020 package to prevent these arbitrary Medicare cuts in order to protect patient access to medically necessary services.</p><p>AHCA/NCAL also urged its members to contact their members of Congress through the association’s <a href="https&#58;//www.votervoice.net/AHCA/home">Action Center </a>to ask them to stop the Medicare cuts to providers and support the enactment of <a href="https&#58;//www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8702?s=1&amp;r=22">HR 8702,</a> Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020.<br>This bill would provide a two-year reprieve from these cuts “protecting access to essential care for our vulnerable residents until a more permanent solution can be implemented,” AHCA/NCAL said.</p>2020-12-03T05:00:00ZCOVID-19Patrick ConnoleServices impacted include those received by residents of nursing facilities, assisted living communities, and homes for individuals with developmental disabilities.
AHCA, NCAL Urge Governors to Make Long Term Care First for Vaccine<p>All long term care facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living communities need to be first to receive the COVID vaccine given the fact more than 100,000 long term care residents have died from the virus and are now experiencing the worst outbreak of new cases since last spring, according to a letter sent to the National Governors Association (NGA) and state governors by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).</p><p>The communication to NGA and governors comes after the decision on Dec. 1 by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to include long term care residents and staff in the first round “1A” of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, along with health care workers.</p><p>AHCA/NCAL said it is extremely hopeful approved vaccines will “literally be a lifesaver” for thousands of residents and expedite the reopening of facilities to family members and loved ones given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of this virus, combined with the outbreak of community spread across the United States.</p><p>“An expediated rollout of the vaccine for our long term care residents and caregivers is vitally important given the level of COVID in our community and in long term care facilities right now,” the association said.&#160; </p><p>“A one-month delay in administering the vaccine at long term care facilities could cost more than 10,000 of our residents their lives. The speed at which states can vaccinate our residents has significant life or death consequences.”<br>&#160; <br>Signed by Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of AHCA/NCAL, and Scott Tittle, executive director of NCAL, the letter also said the long term care industry, including nursing homes and assisted living communities, urges governors to direct their public health agencies to ensure long term care residents and staff are the first group to receive the vaccine within the initial Phase 1A distribution. <br>“We know our collective priority is the well-being of our most vulnerable and our health care heroes, and by working together we can protect them through this pandemic,” the letter said.</p><p>Here is a <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/Letters/NGA-Letter-12.3.20.pdf">link</a> to a pdf version of the letter.</p>2020-12-03T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/senior_man_thinking_2.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19Patrick ConnoleAssociation says the speed with which states can vaccinate residents and staff has significant life or death consequences.
CDC Panel Decision to Include LTC Residents, Staff in First Round for Vaccine Wins Praise <p>​​The decision on Dec. 1 by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to include long term care residents and staff in the first round “1A” of COVID-19 vaccine distribution won strong praise from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).</p><p>Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and chief executive officer, said, “On behalf of our long term care industry, we applaud the ACIP for prioritizing our residents and caregivers for the first distribution of the COVID vaccine.</p><p>“More than 100,000 long term care residents have died from this virus in the U.S., and our nursing homes are now experiencing the worst outbreak of new cases since last spring, with more than 2,000 residents succumbing to this virus each week.” </p><p>Parkinson said given the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the virus, combined with the explosion of community spread across the United States, the long term care (LTC) profession, including assisted living communities as well as nursing homes, is extremely hopeful vaccine(s) “will literally be a lifesaver for thousands of residents and expedite the reopening of our facilities to family members and loved ones.” </p><p>“Now it is up to the governors and state health agencies to implement these recommendations and ensure our long term care residents and staff are prioritized in the actual rollout of the vaccine to provide this protection as soon as possible,” Parkinson stressed.</p><p>The long term care industry called on governors from all 50 states “to ensure long term care residents and staff are the first group to receive the vaccine within this initial Phase ‘1A’ distribution to save as many lives as possible.” </p><p>For more information from AHCA/NCAL on COVID-related issues, visit <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Survey-Regulatory-Legal/Emergency-Preparedness/pages/coronavirus.aspx">www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus. </a><br></p>2020-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0620_News3.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19Patrick ConnoleMoving nursing, assisted living communities up in the COVID-19 vaccination distribution list will be a “lifesaver for thousands of residents,” AHCA/NCAL says.
COVID Outbreak in Nursing Homes Worst Since April<p>The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) released an updated&#160;<a href="http&#58;//links.ahca.org/u/click?_t=3abc5280edfa42b5905fbea7c0fff5c2&amp;_m=cd581d0b5c3c43aca3428b4dca259e76&amp;_e=xqBXemj_ArK8HlrFFuvkCBgqUQ03JTCRLskAopKuT8MfEK_ij0ZmCIM8g6L-sarsx1TE5m_uV9Wyw6xcvr-xa-m9RxtUD2XkEzt3wX48NB2YPWVUhJTcORd14kJbOWjxs0dwY6eDTFqtlS7xfO6dGxRBMoVdAQ0s16AgVMSt6llthBR71zTgM8syGMzMYcRaAR3IIVOWmAAgVrLQEtqNt5TQaXaxIFJr-H7SalQdkfSSOC8OMJVEonThzNDLr2A5kkt1_j5AhiDT5ccWMJjHzMAYS1AdOaURXTsPRY3zYxWqrWtnPVpuUEp_Yv6JwSk0lxoOmXDe0sk4lTXVgOu9WlmSJgyt3jqhdbKVOi6y9yyMERPUUZy4oPkihCYNaFb2bzjAWPGFaS-4K0sZh15QaA%3D%3D" target="_blank">report</a>&#160;on Dec. 1 showing nursing homes in the United States have now experienced the worst outbreak of weekly new cases since last spring due to the community spread among the general population, surpassing previous peaks since the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) started tracking cases in nursing homes.<br> </p><p><span><img src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/12120.png" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px 20px;width&#58;758px;height&#58;427px;" /></span>AHCA/NCAL said recent data released by Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) show that with the recent spike in new COVID cases in the general U.S. population, weekly nursing home cases are also on the rise. </p><p>According to Johns Hopkins University, weekly new COVID cases in the general U.S. population rose by 330 percent to 1,043,040 new cases the week of Nov. 15. A correlating uptick in new cases in nursing homes occurred when cases in the surrounding community started rising in mid-September.</p><p>As&#160;<a href="http&#58;//links.ahca.org/u/click?_t=3abc5280edfa42b5905fbea7c0fff5c2&amp;_m=cd581d0b5c3c43aca3428b4dca259e76&amp;_e=xqBXemj_ArK8HlrFFuvkCBgqUQ03JTCRLskAopKuT8MfEK_ij0ZmCIM8g6L-sarsx1TE5m_uV9Wyw6xcvr-xa-m9RxtUD2XkEzt3wX48NB1y-vZO9ovC-V37MuoQXJDMlvVhmFYh-u9Jejf2tbLn8JmMw19Nu9VNnjjE_VOcy4633Br65eespR9sY4dLtmFhfU4CzcKYZLHAGc1lhVY2ADqCIfPbTUUBxoP99X3VWbg5YYzzMmSbwiSYGidDy3NDNFf2lMPCTeQlEbiEZ0NTfuU76VbrTLp-pl02BLnbZm4Yz69w1wO3O9U56Wcoy9FgKLvsfCOmlnvJzyOgxWq2NhVvv3o1k26Tw_SVF6xYyzMLc54nGhjCUcdNO7jHTO7tuSEGiX_Z16zZJ2EorsObBw%3D%3D" target="_blank">experts</a>&#160;have noted, COVID-19 cases in a surrounding community is a top factor in outbreaks in nursing homes. University of Chicago's Tamara Konetzka, a nationally recognized expert on long term care, recently&#160;<a href="http&#58;//links.ahca.org/u/click?_t=3abc5280edfa42b5905fbea7c0fff5c2&amp;_m=cd581d0b5c3c43aca3428b4dca259e76&amp;_e=xqBXemj_ArK8HlrFFuvkCIdbRKvFTRx4Hya9AHdyrOTtP2HfFlm_wMHLUNxVzLN2rTPkm-IJxIQRWc1uIoOKdrUe8ZtcO_IExOyb-9e1ihHGvZ7klBwGPda2MNFu1Z9nvtF7UAxRECR2DxZ9z8a0lc7VKrjRzTvEzv3AlAipSOir2x2BLe730m7Vdm0seF5UClbdaroKbWseXZ4DPKOJXmLgQ5uEoQ6-90TCbJqtH2M65h4wI0QSC8P0dYcNwQCI1UFtfSE07tdjs9oTfB4DGMi1An4bDycFJoGzFlzsAbYVl_UfCBbuPqx5E-MWBPXU1Taib_PhzbuI-FmXUbF_Zi1fIlL4kOCUqpQ-GoiEEABiBuJenJjNmXR2jbp0diqb" target="_blank">said</a>, “Trying to protect nursing home residents without controlling community spread is a losing battle.” <br> </p><p>“Our worst fears have come true as COVID runs rampant among the general population, and long term care facilities are powerless to fully prevent it from entering due to its asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread,” said AHCA/NCAL President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Parkinson. </p><p>“Our health care heroes are doing everything they can to prevent it from spreading further, but this level of COVID nationwide puts serious strain on our workforce, supplies, and testing capacity. Given the fact that our elderly population is the most vulnerable and the rising level of COVID across the U.S. shows no signs of stopping, it is paramount that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] provide the highest priority for the vaccine distribution to long term care residents and staff.”<br> </p><p>During the week of Nov. 15, nearly half (49 percent) of new COVID cases in nursing homes were from Midwest states, with major spikes in community spread in the upper parts of the region. As a result, the Midwest region saw more than a 400 percent increase in weekly COVID cases in nursing homes since mid-September.</p><p>After seven weeks of declining cases in nursing homes through mid-September, nursing home cases began to increase as nearly all 50 states started to see significant rising levels of COVID cases. New weekly cases in nursing homes grew by more than 177 percent nationwide between mid-September and the week of Nov. 15.</p><p>The report also showed COVID-related deaths in nursing homes are starting to rise, crossing more than 2,000 residents lost the week of Nov. 15—the first time since early June. Nursing home residents are typically older adults with multiple chronic conditions, making them highly vulnerable to COVID-19. Residents of long term care facilities account for only 7 percent of the nation’s cases, yet 40 percent of its deaths. </p><p>“With millions of Americans failing to heed advice from public health experts and traveling during Thanksgiving, we are extremely concerned that this situation will only get much worse,” Parkinson said. </p><p>“At this point, long term care facilities desperately need public health officials at every level to take emergency steps to get control of the community spread and ensure our facilities have the resources they need, as well as for CDC to make our residents and caregivers the top priority in distributing the vaccine in order to save thousands of lives.”<br> </p><p>With record new COVID cases across the country, Parkinson said Congress must also prioritize frontline health care workers and long term care residents during the lame-duck session. Last week, AHCA/NCAL released a&#160;<a href="http&#58;//links.ahca.org/u/click?_t=3abc5280edfa42b5905fbea7c0fff5c2&amp;_m=cd581d0b5c3c43aca3428b4dca259e76&amp;_e=xqBXemj_ArK8HlrFFuvkCBgqUQ03JTCRLskAopKuT8MfEK_ij0ZmCIM8g6L-sarsx1TE5m_uV9Wyw6xcvr-xa-m9RxtUD2XkEzt3wX48NB2oo2PWHg35qXHcb-OvfoKS__w4YhpeA3jTY6x_vvQKYlSuYbiZYtKTuPeOiAk9W9_qUoBQjjjWJ7xtN3MC083cnMxlD3XpZh_VDqG_Ugo_dkvNoxHHunceXKefuoHQ2-hyV_wgU7cMuGAV9FBh8lf9P9KXDhVwZ73_6o1Mb1AC1Qwq5WsMWtQGz98CKqFElRjmz8fQMJSTcQfksMk5JJU8-sMpt-ntyekUM8DJWVRfo9h9XgJH7f-_ILe-2yekZqs%3D" target="_blank">list of actions</a>&#160;that Congress should urgently take to help nursing homes and assisted living communities respond to the uptick in new cases.<br> </p><p>“Congress must fulfill its duty,” Parkinson said. “Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. is repeating the same mistakes made during the initial outbreak last spring and the major spike over the summer. We need Congress to prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers in long term care facilities, by passing another COVID relief package during the lame duck session on Congress.”<br> </p><p>For more information, please visit&#160;<a href="http&#58;//links.ahca.org/u/click?_t=3abc5280edfa42b5905fbea7c0fff5c2&amp;_m=cd581d0b5c3c43aca3428b4dca259e76&amp;_e=CZr5Uh7p1PxyJca5sa504ZajmmBRGq3xBn46eVzA9qFdbgymGGjAeUk5U1ImU9YqLQIzXnElOjcO8Ac8d9nD6JPLpaP1DjuF10KFiPAahWKR00kW4e4jBHmT174qzXPGliaCS6oxIXsnhWhFBA3ANO_pONJQMNJBLGQSGsQaH2fl3JNLr2MnUNb8bNccWJ_3fvHxjPV7iQGE8jaiHQNVwj1EIaQbtG6QxBbVZYqslq_0CNVUrWsOnq9oRqgDgcaRgiUUg99d6p0sRZSA9EIcmnIMAcLHZfGIfcE2EWD1XlA%3D" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus</a>.</p>2020-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0920_News1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Caregiving;COVID-19Patrick Connole​A new report shows U.S. nursing homes are now experiencing the worst outbreak of weekly new cases since last spring due to community spread among the general population.