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Providers Urge Congress to Extend Relief From Medicare Sequester Cuts Into 2021<p>The American Health Care Association, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and National Association for Homecare and Hospice wrote congressional leaders urging them to extend the congressionally enacted moratorium on the application of the Medicare sequester cuts into 2021 and through the duration of the public health emergency (PHE) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.<br></p><p>In total, these organizations provide health care to more than 62 million Medicare patients, and the persistently high COVID-19 rates across the country are stressing the health care system, they said.<br></p><p>The letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urges extension of the relief from the 2 percent sequester cut enacted in the CARES Act that afforded critical relief during the pandemic to all providers who participate in the Medicare program through the end of 2020.<br></p><p>“Physicians, nurses, hospitals, health systems, long term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and hospices have been hit hard by the pandemic, incurring significant expenses to treat the sick, but experiencing historic financial losses due to the decrease in inpatient and outpatient services,” the letter said.<br></p><p>Relief from the 2 percent sequester cut by way of the CARES Act afforded critical relief during the PHE to all providers who participate in the Medicare program through the end of 2020, it continued.<br></p><p>“Clearly Congress recognized the importance of this relief for the duration of the PHE. Given that the PHE is certain to continue into 2021, it is a safe assumption that America’s health care providers will continue to face the overwhelming financial challenges and pressures associated with higher overhead costs due to personal protective equipment and other safeguards, lost revenue due to delayed elective procedures and/or forgone routine visits, and hazard pay to staff.”<br></p><p>The organizations said they are grateful that Congress has provided a much-needed reprieve from the Medicare sequestration since May. Without future sequestration relief, however, America’s health care safety net could be at risk of collapse, they said.​</p>2020-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/1220_news2.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Capitol Hill;CongressPatrick Connole​The letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urges extension of the relief from the 2 percent sequester cut enacted in the CARES Act.
Too Much Sleep Not Good for Those 80 and Older: Study<p>Too much sleep for people between 80 and 105 years old is tied to higher mortality rates, according to a research paper published in&#160;<em>JAMDA</em>.<br></p><p>While both too much and not enough sleep can have negative ramifications for people of all ages, like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus, sleeping too much seems to have a negative impact for the oldest age cohorts, authors said.<br></p><p>While cognitive impairment contributes to higher mortality in this population, the research in “The Role of Cognitive Impairment, Physical Disability, and Chronic Conditions on the Association of Sleep Duration with All-Cause Mortality Among the Very Old” said this is not the only factor.<br></p><p>“A possible explanation is that poor quality of sleep, such as sleep fragmentation, waking after sleep onset, sleep latency, and feelings of fatigue and lethargy after a long sleep may induce sleep extension and decrease resistance to disease,” researchers said. This, in turn, may lead to increased mortality.<br></p><p>The authors collected sleep data on nearly 20,000 Chinese adults between the ages of 80 and 105 for up to 10 years. They uncovered a relationship between longer periods of sleep (more than nine hours per night) and mortality, with a significant relationship between longer sleep and cognitive impairment on mortality.<br></p><p>However, the risk of death did not differ much for people with various physical disabilities and chronic conditions.<br></p><p>“These findings suggest that health practitioners and families should be aware of the potential adverse prognosis associated with long sleep,” the authors said. <br></p><p>While getting a full night’s sleep is important for older adults and can contribute to health and quality of life, poor sleep—whether too much or too little—should be considered a red flag worth reporting to the physician or other practitioner. This is particularly true for older adults with cognitive impairment.<br></p><p>This study was conducted by researchers at the School of Public Health, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, P.R. China; Aging Research Center, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinksa Institute and Stockholm University; and Department of Biostatisticians, School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.​</p>2020-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/senior_nurse_1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />CaregivingWhile both too much and not enough sleep can have negative ramifications for people of all ages, like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes mellitus, sleeping too much seems to have a negative impact for the oldest age cohorts, authors said.
Long Term Care Advocates Urge Policymakers to Prioritize Residents, Staff for COVID Vaccine<p>In a joint statement released on Nov. 30, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), LeadingAge, Argentum, and the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) urged policymakers at all levels to make residents and staff of long term care facilities a top priority for receiving distribution a COVID-19 vaccine.</p><p>“Since the start of the pandemic, heroic caregivers in long term care and senior living communities have done everything in their power to protect our most vulnerable citizens. In the early months, essential resources such as personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and staffing support were directed toward hospitals and other health care sectors, leaving nursing homes, assisted living, and senior living communities and other long term care providers pleading for help,” the statement said.</p><p>“Government reports correctly identified all long term care residents and staff for priority distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. It is critical that policymakers at all levels maintain that position as these products come online and are delivered across the country.”</p><p>The groups further said that the lack of prioritization for long term care and seniors housing at the outset of the pandemic led to devastating losses, and “we cannot let that happen again.”</p><p>Vulnerable older adults and the frontline workers who protect them deserve the full support of the public health sector, the groups said. “Ensuring residents and staff in all long term care and senior living settings are among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will help limit the spread of this deadly virus and prevent further tragedies. We also want to get residents out enjoying social activities and seeing their loved ones again. A vaccine is one critical step toward that goal.”</p><p>In addition, the groups said this is especially important given the new surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide. Independent research from the nation’s most prestigious universities shows that a high rate of spread within a community will likely lead to outbreaks in long term care. <br>“We are seeing this unfold now, as cases among the general public and nursing homes hit record numbers,” the statement said.</p><p>“Distributing a vaccine to long term care and senior living residents and staff first will give us another line of defense against this deadly virus if cases rise within their surrounding communities.”<br></p>2020-11-30T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/capitol_blue_skies_flag.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19Patrick ConnoleIn the early months, essential resources were directed toward hospitals and other health care sectors, leaving long term care providers pleading for help, advocacy groups say.
Expert Tips on Preventing COVID Infections During Thanksgiving<p>With the number of COVID-19 cases across the country rising at an alarming rate, resulting in a correlating spike in cases in long term care settings, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is sharing important advice on how to best stop infections over the Thanksgiving holiday. </p><p>Recent <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Report-Nursing-Homes-Cases-Nov23-2020.pdf">data</a> from the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) show that nursing homes continue to see a record number of weekly new cases, surpassing previous peaks since CMS started tracking nursing home cases. The Midwest region in particular has seen a staggering 275 percent increase since September, ACHA/NCAL said.</p><p>The association said while long term care workers continue to do everything they can to keep their residents safe, they cannot fight the battle alone. With Thanksgiving so close, the public must exercise caution and discipline as they partake in their celebrations.</p><p>David Gifford, MD, chief medical officer for AHCA/NCAL, said, “We understand everyone wants to see their family and friends during the holidays, but we really need to consider our parents and grandparents who are living in our nation’s long term care facilities.”</p><p>He said even though “you may feel fine, more than half of people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and the people you encounter at the Thanksgiving table or out at the grocery store may work in a nursing home or assisted living community. Wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing not only protects you, but it is sign of respect for our elders and our health care heroes who care for them.”</p><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued <a href="https&#58;//www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html">guidance</a> around hosting or attending holiday gatherings, including&#58;</p><p>•&#160;Checking the COVID-19 infection rates in areas where attendees live on state, local, territorial, or tribal health department websites.</p><p>•&#160;Limiting the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least six feet apart at all times.</p><p>•&#160;Hosting outdoor rather than indoor gatherings as much as possible.</p><p>&#160;•&#160;Avoiding holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.</p><p>&#160;•&#160;Requiring guests to wear masks.</p><p>&#160;•&#160;Encouraging attendees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.</p><p>&#160;•&#160;Provide guests information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and steps that will be in place at the gathering to prevent the spread of the virus.</p><p>&#160;•&#160;Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible.<br></p>2020-11-25T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/mask_2.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19Patrick ConnoleWhile communities and nursing homes continue to see record numbers of new cases, the public must exercise caution and discipline as they partake in their celebrations.