Government urges Highest Court to pass on nonprofit contraceptive mandate argument

Government attorneys are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to not take up the issue of contraception mandates of the Affordable Care Act. A U.S. Court of Appeals has denied a Catholic coalition's effort to strike down the provision.

FDA approves 'breakthrough' therapy for diabetic eye disorder

The FDA announced Wednesday that it has granted "breakthrough therapy designation" to the drug Eylea, and expanded its approved use for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy in patients with diabetic macular edema.

Coroner rules odd nursing home death accidental; state findings yet to be released

The coroner of St. Clair County, where an 85-year-old resident of a suburban St. Louis nursing home was found dead, strapped to her wheelchair at the bottom of some stairs, ruled Wednesday the death was the result of a fall, and not criminal wrongdoing.

Also in the News for Thursday, March 26

Insurance companies struggle with long-term care ... Missouri's Medicaid program lost out on $27M, audit says ... B. Smith testifies on Alzheimer's at Senate hearing ... NLRB playing catch-up due to Supreme Court decision

IT'S HERE: Online Expo starts today

IT'S HERE: Online Expo starts today

Much like an actual rock concert, McKnight's Online Expo participants will begin today's sessions with "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," a wound care presentation by Janice Beitz, Ph.D.

Medicare providers could face up to 100% late tax penalties

Praise for Congress for proposing a bill that would reset Medicare physician pay rates could be a little less hearty, after details emerged Tuesday that the measure would also include penalties as high as 100% for providers delinquent with income tax payments.

More than half of Alzheimer's patients never learn of diagnosis: Report

A new report by the Alzheimer's Association asserts that fewer than half of Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers ever learn of their diagnosis from a physician, and those who do typically don't learn of it until they are in the advanced stages of the disease.

Speech therapist faces 10 years for $3.7M in bogus claims

A 44-year-old licensed speech therapist faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after admitting she and a colleague submitted $3.7 million in fraudulent insurance claims for services either unnecessary or not provided at all. It serves as another stark reminder that providers need to know how their contractors are conducting business.

Also in the News for Wednesday, March 25

Male nurses make $5,100 more per year, analysis finds ... Ohio mistakenly told 4,200 providers they were being dropped from Medicaid ... Hundreds of Massachusetts nursing home residents scrambling to find new facility after closures

Nursing home groups support 'doc fix' bill

Nursing home groups support 'doc fix' bill

Leaders of the nation's two largest long-term care associations spoke favorably Monday about a bill that would improve Medicare physician pay rates while moderately restricting LTC pay. In fact, the head the American Health Care Association said the group will "enthusiastically support" a bill that would end the "doc fix" issue, provided the final language is what it expects.

ONE DAY TO GO: 9th Expo tackles rehospitalization rates, pay worries, pressure ulcers

McKnight's 9th Annual Online Expo kicks off Wednesday, and organizers are bracing for record numbers of attendees.

Bill would credit observation stays toward 'three-night rule'

A bill introduced in Congress on Monday would count all time that Medicare beneficiaries spend under hospital "observation" status toward the three-day inpatient requirement necessary to receive Medicare coverage for nursing home care.

Embezzlement scheme nets nursing home bookkeeper 2½-year prison term

A 31-year bookkeeper for a Wisconsin nursing home received a 2½-year prison sentence and was ordered to repay $296,000 for siphoning funds from residents' insurance proceeds in a decade-long spree.

Also in the News for Tuesday, March 24

OMB begins review of Medicaid managed care ... Medicaid expansion has led to surge in diabetes diagnosis...Statins can stop for terminal patients, researchers advise

Pressure ulcer rates expected to grow; learn more at the Online Expo

Pressure ulcer rates expected to grow; learn more at the Online Expo

There are approximately 2.5 million pressure ulcers treated in acute care yearly, according to the Joint Commission. By 2017, the number of pressure, venous and diabetic ulcers will increase to 60 million worldwide.

Congress gets tough on EHR interoperability

Providers using incompatible or uncertified electronic health record systems by the end of 2018 could face reduced Medicare reimbursements under a bill introduced Thursday in both houses of Congress.

LTC docs advise against incontinence catheters

AMDA is advising long-term caregivers against using indwelling urinary catheters to manage urinary incontinence — one of five practices or tests that lack scientific evidence to support their use in such settings, physicians say.

Caregivers may be focusing on 'futile' measures: Brown study

New research concludes that nursing home caregivers well-versed in palliative care tend to focus less on possibly futile "aggressive" life-saving measures.

Also in the News for Monday, March 23

Congress votes to kill NLRB union election rule ... People grow more trusting as they age, say Northwestern University researchers ... NY lawmakers push for Medicaid to cover oxygen therapy ... Home health workers fight for $15 an hour

Minnix blasts 'doc fix' formula

Minnix blasts 'doc fix' formula

The "doc fix" that ends the Sustainable Growth Rate formula drew at least one long-term leader's sharp criticism. The $213 billion deal, which is still to be voted on in both houses, will be partially financed by $35 billion in cuts to Medicare beneficiaries' benefits.

Coroner opens probe in nursing home death

A coroner's inquiry has been opened following the death of an 85-year-old resident of a southeast suburban St. Louis nursing home. The woman was reportedly discovered deceased early on March 12, strapped to a wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of stairs

Also in the News for Friday, March 20

Five days until McKnight's Online Expo ... Senate GOP budget cuts less than House version ... Houston condo owners sue over proposed assisted living development ... New diet may reduce Alzheimer's risk

Joint HHS, Justice efforts recoup $28 billion in Medicare payments

The Justice Department announced on Thursday it had captured $3.3 billion from healthcare fraud prosecutions and other deals in 2014, bringing to nearly $28 billion the total amount it has recouped since the beginning of its 18-year-old Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control (HCFAC) Program.

Inspector General blasts agency for ignoring ZPIC scrutiny

Inspector General blasts agency for ignoring ZPIC scrutiny

Ignoring a four-year-old warning to more thoroughly evaluate Medicare auditing contractors is among the pile of unheeded advice that could have saved the Medicare program billions of dollars in recent years, the Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General charged Tuesday.

Proposed House budget would slash Medicaid by $913 billion

Few have ever heard a federal budget referred to as a "moral document," as one GOP budget committee lawmaker described it on Tuesday. That's when the House unveiled a 10-year budget whose $5.5 trillion in cuts are likely to be called anything but "moral" when the long-term care industry finishes analyzing it.

Analysis shows Obamacare has had little effect on large employers

The Affordable Care Act has prompted few large companies to change or begin offering health insurance plans to their employees — because most already comply with the president's signature healthcare law, according to Mercer, a national human resources firm.

Also in the News for Thursday, March 19

Antipsychotics may be more deadly than previously thought ... Texas considering bill that would prohibit physicians from asking about guns ... Blood pressure drug has promise in reducing corticosteroid skin problems

House unanimously passes 'observation status' bill

House unanimously passes 'observation status' bill

Long-term care leaders firmly applauded members of the U.S. House on Tuesday for unanimously passing a bill that would put tighter control over the designation of "observation status" for hospital patients.

Debate on permanent doc fix rages on

Long-term care leaders continue to brace this week for news about any new plans to pay Medicare physicians, which might siphon pay from seniors' caregivers. Medicare physicians face a 21% pay cut at the end of the month if lawmakers don't find an alternative, which most thing they will.

Homicide charges follow sudden illness of six assisted living residents

A 98-year-old woman's death in a south suburban Chicago assisted living facility has been ruled a homicide. She and five others were hospitalized in early February after suffering breathing difficulties. The Cook County Medical Examiner's made the announcement Monday.

Also in the News for Wednesday, March 18

Novartis to pay $12.6M to settle Medicare fraud charges ... Indiana to have three-year nursing home construction ban .. Recommendations for Vitamin D are far too low, researchers say

Also in the news for Tuesday, March 17 ...

Internet-only manual for Medicare nursing home policy, billing updated ... First Open Door conference call on new ACO today ... MedPAC formally endorses site-neutral payments for some conditions ... Aging men lose memory faster than women, among study's findings ... New class of drugs increases mice lifespans.

New, 'most important' LeadingAge program helps members ask better strategic questions

New, 'most important' LeadingAge program helps members ask better strategic questions

LeadingAge members can soon use a new decision-making framework called Thrive, executives announced Monday at the association's spring meeting.

Providers seek answers to wide-ranging legal concerns

Providers seek answers to wide-ranging legal concerns

Payment arrangements, coding, referrals and stretching employees' work days were all high-profile topics at the Legal Issues Forum on Monday at the LeadingAge PEAK conference.

Bill would encourage more veterans' LTC admissions

Veterans would gain easier access to nearby long-term care facilities, under legislation introduced Monday in the Senate.

Major Brookdale investor ratchets up fight for change, seats on board

Sandell Asset Management vowed Monday to take its shakeup demands directly to Brookdale Senior Living shareholders, announcing its nomination of three replacements for Brookdale board members whose posts are up for re-election at the company's annual meeting.

Healthy lifestyle may help delay onset of dementia

Finnish researchers say they have found conclusive evidence that healthy lifestyles, cardiac monitoring and rudimentary "brain exercises" can arrest cognitive decline in older people.

Also in the News for Monday, March 16

AL administrator arrested in $68,000 theft case ... Hebrew Rehab says eliminating alarms did not cause fall increase .. Alaska rejects Medicaid expansion; Utah still debates

Congress mulls Medicaid-Medicare pay parity, and end of 'doc fixes'

Congress mulls Medicaid-Medicare pay parity, and end of 'doc fixes'

Long-term care providers are closely monitoring two major lawmaking efforts in Washington this week that have both chambers of Congress debating a plan to end annual Medicare cuts and abolish painful "fixes" to the Medicare physician payment formula.

RAC beats CMS on payment lawsuit appeal

A federal appeals court last week ruled that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services violated federal contracting regulations when it stretched out payment terms for recovery audit contractors.

Short sleep cycles lead to elevated blood pressure, researchers warn

Mayo Clinic researchers have affirmed that consecutive or prolonged periods of abbreviated sleep can wreak havoc on heart rates and blood pressure, a finding relevant to practically any sleep-challenged worker or nursing home resident.

Therapy payment bills supported during AHCA/NCAL fly-in

Therapy payment bills supported during AHCA/NCAL fly-in

National long-term care industry advocates and numerous facility representatives made the rounds in the halls of Congress on Wednesday in support of legislation designed to permanently end nearly two decades-old therapy caps and improve short-term data collection efforts they say have caused undue administrative burdens on providers and patients.

More than 40% of sepsis re-hospitalizations preventable: JAMA

As long-term care providers face looming pressures to avoid re-hospitalization under the Affordable Care Act, new research has found that over 40% of all return visits among severe sepsis patients are for diagnoses that could have been prevented.

Indoor pollutants imperil SNF residents: Researchers

Nursing home residents are living longer while becoming exposed to a toxic cocktail of indoor pollutant that could make them more susceptible to chronic lung diseases like COPD, European researchers reported Thursday.

Also in the News for Friday, March 13

Night shift workers arrested in assisted living robbery ... House GOP leaders mull 'doc fix' ... Non-invasive ultrasound can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease, researchers say

SNF cuts could be averted under latest 'doc fix' proposal

SNF cuts could be averted under latest 'doc fix' proposal

Nursing home leaders and operators are crossing their fingers that a new proposal will give them a four- to six-month reprieve from having to possibly finance a plan via reimbursement reductions to avert scheduled 21% physician Medicare rate cuts.

Medicare auditors exaggerating predictions of insolvency, providers say

Recovery audit contractors continue to bemoan an audit moratorium and are now saying it is contributing to dire predictions about Medicare program solvency. A RAC group says that General Accountability Office research shows that projected 2014 Medicare overpayments are the single worst example of federal financial waste

Owner of two nursing agencies charged with $5 million Medicare fraud

The owner of two Illinois nursing agencies was arrested Tuesday on charges he allegedly defrauded Medicare out of more than $5 million for unnecessary home care services over a 44-month period. The arrest is the latest in a long string of arrests made by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which has been operating in the Chicago area since February 2011.

Also in the news for Thursday, March 12

42% of people don't know nursing home rating system exists ... New blood test for Alzheimer's ... Senate Aging Chair pushes for glucose monitors ... ALFA seeks participants for housing survey

OIG says critical access swing beds should be paid at SNF rates

New legislation should be introduced to significantly change the way rural-based hospitals are reimbursed for care provided in post-acute care swing beds, the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week.

Upcoming ACO model to have positive post-acute impact, CMS official says

Upcoming ACO model to have positive post-acute impact, CMS official says

Long-term care providers now have another accountable care model to consider, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials announced Tuesday.

New EHR bills would improve interoperability

On the heels of a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pledge to ease electronic health record implementation reporting rules several weeks ago, newly introduced legislation would facilitate greater interoperability among various EHR systems and promote the transparency of Medicare and Medicaid health data to fuel efficiency and cut costs.

Also in the News for Wednesday, March 11

Senators ask for SSNs to be removed from Medicare cards ... Texas resident missing from nursing home found dead ... New CPR devices approved by the FDA for first responders

Companion bills target 'unfair' hospital readmission policies

House and Senate lawmakers on Tuesday double-teamed Congress with companion bills aimed at mitigating hospital readmission penalties — a positive move for nursing homes because it would ease the invariable scrutiny that surrounds readmitted low-income and dual-eligible patients.

Connecticut community completed

The Residence at South Windsor Farms in South Windsor, CT, is open and offering independent, assisted and memory care to area seniors, LCB Senior Living announced.

Lancaster Pollard announces transactions

Lancaster Pollard recently closed seven loans for $36.9 million for a public REIT, the firm said.

2014 senior housing prices hit record highs

2014 senior housing prices hit record highs

Average per-unit prices in the assisted living market soared 25% in 2014 in the midst of a record-setting favorable combination of vigorous investment activity, abundant capital and low interest rates, a leading market intelligence firm announced Monday.

Another state considers terminally ill access to experimental drugs

Despite opposition from some drug makers and provider groups, Illinois lawmakers are considering several bills that would allow terminal patients to try unapproved experimental drugs to extend their lives.

After 14 years, SNF construction ban officially lifted

In anticipation of a swelling elderly population and the possible boost to the state's economy, Florida has ended a 14-year moratorium and approved permits to build 22 new skilled nursing facilities across the state.

Also in the News for Tuesday, March 10

More than a 10% increase in RN-to-BSN programs for nurses, latest AACN survey finds ... 100 nursing home jobs in NY saved as part of union, owner agreement ... Electrical stimulation device helping Parkinson patients, researchers say

SNF victory in federal appeals court expected to cause review of other deficiency cases

A federal appeals court has upheld fines emanating from a pair of deficiencies found and affirmed at a California nursing home. But the provider and its legal counsel are thrilled because the court also ruled that 25 other alleged deficiencies should be reviewed for relevance.

Judge rules that contract fee for 'free' nursing home bed rights is valid

A federal judge has ruled that the transfer of dozens of nursing home beds among nursing home operators must go through as originally planned, despite the would-be buyer's claim the contract was invalid.

MDS accuracy assessment to be covered in Online Expo

MDS accuracy assessment to be covered in Online Expo

MDS 3.0 accuracy has been a significant concern of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and data errors can cost facilities reimbursement, warns regulatory and training expert Leah Klusch.

Also in the News for Monday, March 9

GAO: Medicare paid billions wrong in 2014 ... Proposal would mean $6K more per year for private pay nursing home residents, group says ... Contracted nursing aide accused of sexual assault at facility had prior convictions

A 'repurposing' focus

A 'repurposing' focus

Renovating a 20-year-old facility in West Texas takes more than fresh paint and new furnishings — it's a transformation into a modern center

Feature: Not a normal part of aging

Feature: Not a normal part of aging

Keeping incontinent residents healthy, dignified and satisfied is a full-time chore — if providers are educated and keeping a proper eye on those in their care

Feature: Next to godliness

Feature: Next to godliness

Providers are offering more laundry service variations than ever before, with options ranging from special wash concentrations to delivery enhancement

How to do it ..Better staff scheduling

Electronic staff scheduling programs have become so sophisticated, some wonder how anyone performs the task anymore with paper and pencil. When it comes to managing labor — a facility's biggest expense — choosing the best solution is critical

Kindred deal lands Gentiva

Kindred Healthcare has completed its purchase of Gentiva Health Services in a deal valued at $1.8 billion, including assumed debt.

AHCA pitches 'permanent' therapy payment system

AHCA pitches 'permanent' therapy payment system

Nursing homes' biggest national ally and advocate is making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week in an effort to convince Congress to let die a lengthy experiment to withhold therapy claims while it roots out fraud.

Pain assessment 'insufficient' for dementia patients, researchers say

Caregivers have no reliable means to gauge pain in dementia patients, university researchers maintain while calling for new methods to assess chronic pain in those populations.

Former NQF safety advocate settles false claims complaint for $1 million

The former chair of a National Quality Forum safety committee has agreed to pay a $1 million civil fine to settle allegations he violated the False Claims Act by soliciting and accepting kickbacks, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ask the Nursing Expert ... about hospital readmissions

Ask the Nursing Expert ... about hospital readmissions

Is it true we will be hit by cuts in reimbursement and penalized by Medicare for high percentages of hospital readmissions based on the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, or PAMA?

Why standardization?

Why standardization?

There's a saying that "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

Feds' new pay-for-quality goals are OK, except ...

Feds' new pay-for-quality goals are OK, except ...

Long-term care providers weren't outwardly jumping for joy when it was announced that Medicare is going to start paying for quality, and not quantity, of services.

Brookdale encounters a new problem: separation anxiety

Brookdale encounters a new problem: separation anxiety

Embattled Brookdale Senior Living is being asked by a major shareholder to spin off its real estate holdings and revamp its governance board.

Complaint by whistleblowers will cost hospice $4 million

Complaint by whistleblowers will cost hospice $4 million

A hospice company that hired medical directors with close ties to nursing homes to better pursue allegedly fraudulent practices has agreed to a $4 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.

Bankrupt facility must pay up, judge rules

A federal appeals court has ruled that former officers and directors of a nursing home that closed after declaring bankruptcy are still liable for $2.25 million in compensatory damages.

Night shift work a risk factor for diabetes?

The more years black women spend working the night shift, the higher their risk for developing diabetes, according to a new study in Diabetologia.

Pitching a terrible idea

Pitching a terrible idea

Even if you are not a baseball fan, you are probably familiar with the concept of three-strikes-and-you're-out.

Also in the News for Friday, March 6

Antidepressants linked to better cardiovascular outcomes ... Former assisted living manager to serve six months for theft from residents ... New treatment can help with diabetic neuropathy

Whistleblower allegations aren't limited to employment dates, judge rules

Whistleblower allegations aren't limited to employment dates, judge rules

Healthcare industry whistleblowers alleging False Claims Act violations may get more wind in their sails thanks to a recent ruling in federal district court.

Bill to repeal Medicare payment panel reintroduced in Congress

Opposition to a proposed independent payment advisory board (IPAB) continued to swell this week following re-introduction of a bill in Congress to repeal a portion of the Affordable Care Act that houses it. Skilled nursing providers have been among providers who do not favor IPAB, which would largely supplant the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

Benefits of aneurysm screenings doubtful, say researchers

British researchers warned this week that routine screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) in over-65 males may be doing more harm than good.

Also in the News for Thursday, March 5

Adults only get the flu twice a decade, research indicates ... Murder-suicide alleged in Dallas assisted living facility ... Too much testosterone is being prescribed for older men, researchers say

The 2015 McKnight's Online Expo is here

The 2015 McKnight's Online Expo is here

9th annual 'virtual' tradeshow makes it easy to earn continuing education credits, learn from national experts, visit vendor booths and get up to speed on the profession's hottest topics

Operators brace for pared down ratings

Operators brace for pared down ratings

Providers were gearing up at press time to explain to their staff and residents' family members what a newly rebased federal quality measurement scale would mean.

McKnight's Online Expo to tackle pressing issues

Certain issues tend to weigh heavily on the minds of operators. Chief among them: reducing hospital readmissions, complying with ever-changing Medicare rules, finding needed capital, delivering optimal wound care and harnessing technology to improve resident outcomes.

Meds linked to dementia risk

Meds linked to dementia risk

A high use of anticholinergic medications has been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia, according to a new study.

Drug combo can be deadly

Spironolactone, a diuretic used to treat heart failure, can cause a risk of sudden death in seniors when given with the antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, Toronto researchers have found.

60 Seconds With ... Larry Minnix

60 Seconds With ... Larry Minnix

Nonprofits will continue to lead the way when it comes to service innovation, Minnix says.

Departing workers are outpacing arrivals

Workers are continuing to leave the field faster than they arrive, a new study finds.

Bill would cover telehealth

In a move that could greatly expand the visibility and adoption of telehealth systems, Congress is proposing that Medicare reimburse telehealth services at the same rate as in-person medical visits.

Profile: Barbara Gay

Profile: Barbara Gay

Growing up in a quintessential New England town with extended family all around, Barbara Gay always appreciated the rich relationships she had with older adults.

Ask the care expert .. about silverware to help with tremors

Ask the care expert .. about silverware to help with tremors

Do you know of silverware to assist residents who may have Parkinson's or tremors while eating? We have weighted bulky silverware, but it seems to add to the shaking.

Study reveals slow feedings may exacerbate dysphagia

Study reveals slow feedings may exacerbate dysphagia

Researchers caution that a slow-but-constant feeding pace could worsen dysphagia by increasing the duration of mealtimes and fatiguing the oral muscles associated with swallowing.

Playing catch may help to reduce falls

Catching a weighted medicine ball can improve balance and may help prevent falls in the elderly, according to two studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

State News for March 2015

State News for March 2015

ARKANSAS — A former circuit court judge recently admitted that a campaign contribution induced him to lower a jury award in a negligent death lawsuit brought by a nursing home resident's family.

I couldn't live without ... PointRight

I couldn't live without ... PointRight

With data as a critical focus of her job, Samantha Broussard, RN, needs a system that can handle the volume, speed and constant flow of information to the point of care.

Incentives seen as a spark for EHR expansion in field

Electronic health record use in nursing homes is at an all-time high, but health information technology adoption in long-term care is still lagging behind other healthcare sectors, according to a study led by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College at Cornell University.

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