NYT says nursing homes use Five Star ratings to 'game' the system

NYT says nursing homes use Five Star ratings to 'game' the system

Nursing homes are using self-reported data to pump up their ratings in the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Nursing Home Compare system, the New York Times reported Monday in a front-page article.

$9 million verdict against nursing home thrown out by appeals court

An Illinois nursing home won a victory last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit voided a $9 million verdict.

Culture change increased care quality, reduced rehospitalizations: study

Culture change pays off by increasing the quality of care in nursing homes, according to a new study from Brown University.

Also in the News for August 26, 2014

House Republican demands New York given back $15 billion in Medicaid overpayments ... Faith-affiliated companies can tell government they object to contraceptive mandate under new Obama accommodation ... States with higher Medicaid payments for office visits result in beneficiaries being more likely to be screened for cancer, study finds.

Also in the news for August 25, 2014

Those with MS can improve awareness through task-oriented cognitive rehabilitation, study says... Minnesota home health workers allowed to move forward on union vote....Kaiser Family Foundation releases report on the ninth year of Medicare Part D.

Pharmacists object to further restrictions for hydrocodone combination products

Pharmacists object to further restrictions for hydrocodone combination products

Hydrocodone combination products such as Vicodin will now be in the same, more-restrictive category as OxyContin and fentanyl under the Controlled Substances Act, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Thursday.

California nursing home settles psychotropic medication case for $655,000

A Ventura Convalescent Hospital deal ends litigation filed in 2011, when families of residents said antipsychotic medication was being given without informed consent under the care of a skilled nursing facility physician.

Health-record alert system greatly lowered urinary tract infections, study finds

An updated alert system in electronic health records heavily reduced urinary tract infections acquired in a hospital, according to a new study.

Also in the news for August 22, 2014

Iowa's nursing homes lost, on average, 41% of their employees each year from 2010-2012 ... Researchers identify proteins necessary in wound healing ... More than 40% percent of SSDI recipients take opioid pain relievers, study says.

CMS: Many skilled nursing providers have poor Medicare certification and recertification practices

CMS: Many skilled nursing providers have poor Medicare certification and recertification practices

The rate of improper Medicare payments to skilled nursing facilities has increased largely due to issues with certification and recertification statements, according to a recently released government memorandum. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services document summarizes requirements that SNF physicians, non-physician practitioners (NPPs) and billing staffs must meet for compliance.

NY nursing home agrees to $2.2 million settlement in case of false documentation

NY nursing home agrees to $2.2 million settlement in case of false documentation

Nursing home operator Ralex Services Inc. has agreed to a $2.2 million settlement in a whistleblower case involving forged documents at a facility in New Rochelle, New York.

Common soaps could endanger healthcare workers, study finds

Healthcare facilities should consider replacing antibacterial soaps containing the chemical triclosan, University of California-San Francisco researchers assert in a recent Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine article. The conclusion echoes recently updated hand hygiene guidelines.

Mandatory staff hours, better high-acuity care could improve quality of life in nursing homes, researchers suggest

A nursing home's staffing patterns and admissions trends are among the most important factors driving residents' quality of life over time, according to recently published research findings.

Also in the news for August 21, 2014 . . .

OH Supreme Court hears case of woman who transferred property then paid for nursing home through Medicaid ... Nursing home video education project part of new $19 million round of NIH funding ... Researchers identify neuron issue leading to Alzheimer's sleep issues, may lead to new therapies

Genesis, Skilled Healthcare merger to create huge long-term care provider with more than 500 facilities

Genesis, Skilled Healthcare merger to create huge long-term care provider with more than 500 facilities

Genesis HealthCare and Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. will merge to create a single long-term and post-acute care company with more than 500 facilities nationwide, the providers announced Tuesday.

Antipsychotic use tied to acute kidney injury, increasing pressure on nursing home reduction efforts

Older people who take antipsychotic medications are at a markedly increased risk of acute kidney injury, according to newly published research findings out of Canada. The study further supports ongoing efforts to reduce the number of nursing home residents on these drugs.

Family alleges long-term care facility banned them due to social media posts, files lawsuit

Family members of a Texas long-term care resident have sued the facility where she lives, claiming they were banned from visiting due to their social media posts, according to a publication covering legal proceedings in the state.

Also in the news for August 20, 2014 . . .

New cosponsors sign on to Medicare Residential Care Coordination Act ... Cognitive declines do not always worsen quality of life for Alzheimer's patients, study finds ... C. diff discovery suggests new ways of attacking the bacterium

OIG: Nursing homes correctly reported 53% of abuse or neglect allegations in 2012

OIG: Nursing homes correctly reported 53% of abuse or neglect allegations in 2012

Only about half of nursing facilities correctly reported abuse or neglect allegations in 2012, indicating that the government needs to provide more guidance and oversight, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

Aggressive blood pressure treatment does not increase fall risk after all, study says

Taking aggressive measures to lower older adults' blood pressure may not increase their risk of falls, contrary to conventional wisdom, according to recently published research findings.

Hackers steal HIPAA-protected info of 4.5 million people from hospital network

Long-term care and other provider types already have been on the alert for large-scale computer breaches, and their concerns likely will be stoked by news that one of the nation's largest hospital organizations has been hacked. The personal information of about 4.5 million patients was compromised in the cyber-attack, Community Health Systems announced in a regulatory filing Monday.

Also in the news for August 19, 2014 . . .

AHCA announces Gold National Quality Award recipients ... Older adults' cognition peaks in the morning ... DNA alteration linked to Alzheimer's

Increase managed care transparency, long-term care providers urge Senators

Increase managed care transparency, long-term care providers urge Senators

The government should collect and release more claims information from managed care plans, the nation's largest long-term care provider association stated in a recent letter to leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.

Federal court dismisses whistleblower lawsuit over Omnicare, PharMerica withholding generic drugs

A federal court in New York has tossed a whistleblower lawsuit charging that large long-term care pharmacies violated the False Claims Act by failing to dispense requested generic drugs.

'Washing without water' is more efficient and improves outcomes versus traditional bed bathing, nursing home study finds

Nursing homes could save money and improve resident skin care by using disposable wash gloves rather than giving traditional soap-and-water bed baths, according to results from a study in the Netherlands.

Also in the news for August 18, 2014 . . .

Communication tool helped improve nursing home antibiotic stewardship, government agency says ... Poor sleep quality increases suicide risk in older adults ... Wall Street Journal takes a look at how feds combat Medicare fraud

Psychologists 'outraged' over federal plan they say omits seniors

Psychologists 'outraged' over federal plan they say omits seniors

Mental healthcare providers for the elderly expressed anger Thursday over an apparent snub of seniors mental health services in a proposed new federal behavioral health plan.

New plan to revamp the ACA would transfer federal funding of long-term care

Better outcomes and cost savings could be achieved if states exclusively funded long-term care for Medicaid beneficiaries, a prominent expert has proposed in a plan that would comprehensively transform the nation's healthcare system.

Assisted living worker shot to death in Alaska, resident claims responsibility

An Alaska man has been charged with murdering a worker at a small assisted living facility in Anchorage, according to local news reports.

Also in the news for August 15, 2014 . . .

High-dose flu vaccine about 25% more effective for seniors ... Regular internet use reduces dementia risk in seniors, scientists say ... Expert panel recommends seniors receive Pfizer pneumonia vaccine ... TX lawmakers propose '3 strikes' rule to close nursing homes

Report: Long-term care providers pay the price for CMS' poor auditor oversight

Report: Long-term care providers pay the price for CMS' poor auditor oversight

Long-term care and other providers could be facing unfair burdens due to ineffective government oversight of Medicare auditors, according to a new report from a federal watchdog agency.

Hospitals need to give patients better guidance about post-acute facilities, experts argue

Too many patients choose a post-acute care facility for the wrong reasons because hospitals do not give necessary and needed guidance, according to a paper forthcoming in the Annals of Long-Term Care.

NY nursing home operator to pay $6.5 million after being busted by an undercover senior

A New York-based long-term care company has agreed to a $6.5 million settlement with the state over practices at an adult day care location, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Tuesday.

Also in the news for August 14, 2014 . . .

Teenager wins kudos from Google for Alzheimer's app ... Mainstreet, Health Care REIT announce $2.3 billion deal ... Product innovation for long-term care needed, UK poll finds

'Muscle suits' designed to reduce nursing home workers' musculoskeletal injuries

New "muscle suits" are designed to reduce musculoskeletal injuries among Japan's older adults and their care workers, Japanese professor says.

Assisted living worker charged over body buried at GA facility

A nurse at an assisted living facility in Georgia has been charged with concealing a body that was buried on the property, according to local news reports.

Deadly pathogen discovered at Ohio long-term care facility could spell trouble elsewhere, researchers warn

Deadly pathogen discovered at Ohio long-term care facility could spell trouble elsewhere, researchers warn

A type of drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa discovered in an Ohio long-term care facility has killed one person and infected six others, according to clinician researchers. A dangerous genetic element of this pathogen might already have been spreading, and "surveillance is urgently needed," the investigators announced.

Also in the news for August 13, 2014 . . .

Decline in ADLs linked to deterioration of certain brain areas ... Pew Trusts examines long-term care for inmates ... Man with rare condition sparks Alzheimer's treatment hopes ... Scientists create brain tissue in lab for dementia research

Doctor accused of vastly overprescribing antipsychotic to nursing home residents loses license

A Chicago psychiatrist has been stripped of his medical license over charges that he received kickbacks and overprescribed antipsychotic drug clozapine to nursing home residents.

Aide fired after refusing to pray is not entitled to $70,000 award, appeals court rules

A Mississippi nursing home did not violate the law by firing an aide who refused to pray the rosary with a resident, according to a recent appeals court ruling that overturned a nearly $70,000 verdict.

Providers support House push to expand veterans' healthcare options

Providers support House push to expand veterans' healthcare options

Providers recently applauded a large bipartisan effort to expand veteran's healthcare options for long-term and post-acute care.

Also in the news for August 12, 2014 . . .

NY man suspected of trying to smother nursing home resident ... Medicare agency publishes QIO evaluation criteria ... TX nursing home deaths raise questions about mentally ill residents

Animal therapy reduces pain medication intake, researchers find

Animal therapy reduces pain medication intake, researchers find

Animal-assisted therapy reduced pain medication needs for patients recovering from total joint replacement surgery, a new study shows.

Long-term care providers would receive more education from auditors under draft Medicare bill

Medicare auditors would boost outreach and education efforts to long-term care and other providers under the provisions of a draft bill introduced Thursday by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the Ways and Means health subcommittee.

Stroke risk spikes with declining cognition, researchers say

Older adults with cognitive impairment have a greatly elevated risk of experiencing a stroke, according to newly published research findings.

Also in the news for August 11, 2014 . . .

Virginia Dental Association chief stumps for nursing home initiative ... NJ nonprofit nursing homes score higher than for-profits ... Fitch: Genworth move signals latest round of LTC insurance anxiety

Discharge trends suggest hospices are ditching patients in their last days to preserve profits, Washington Post reports

Hospices may increasingly be discharging dying patients to hospitals in an effort to protect their bottom lines, according to an article published Thursday in The Washington Post.

Report: Complex care management can succeed, reduced Medicare SNF expenditures 64% in one instance

Report: Complex care management can succeed, reduced Medicare SNF expenditures 64% in one instance

Well-designed programs to coordinate care for patients with complex needs can reduce Medicare expenditures, including skilled nursing facility costs, according to an issue brief released Thursday by The Commonwealth Fund.

Man allegedly ate nursing home resident's pain patch, police say

A 26-year-old man allegedly removed a fentanyl pain patch from a nursing home resident's back and ate it, Pennsylvania police said Thursday.

Also in the news for August 8, 2014 . . .

Severe Vitamin D deficiency increases dementia risk by 125%, historically large study shows ... Stress helps wound healing? ... Government approves new MRSA drug

Nursing home to pay $14,500 settlement over alleged immigrant worker documentation requests

A New York City nursing home has agreed to a $14,500 settlement related to charges that it was too aggressive in asking immigrant workers to provide documentation, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Medicare Advantage organizations are unresponsive to provider questions, long-term care professionals tell CMS

Medicare Advantage organizations are unresponsive to provider questions, long-term care professionals tell CMS

Several skilled nursing facility workers expressed frustration regarding communications with Medicare Advantage organizations during a public call with government officials Wednesday. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services representatives acknowledged that provider frustration in this area has been an ongoing issue, but they said that their hands essentially are tied.

Drug cures Alzheimer's symptoms in mice, Yale researchers find

A drug compound successfully reversed the effects of Alzheimer's disease in mice, researchers say, giving hope to developers trying to find a cure.

Also in the news for August 7, 2014 . . .

Mild cognitive impairment quadruples risk of Alzheimer's ... UK health system testing antipsychotic medication patch ... Nursing home worker admits stealing from resident trust funds ... Genworth reviewing LTC insurance claims reserves

Largest US hospital chain to pay $98 million in observation stay case

The nation's largest hospital organization has agreed to a $98 million settlement to resolve charges that it overbilled by admitting individuals as inpatients rather than keeping them under observation, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

Structured home care program reduced SNF stays 27%, hospital finds

Structured home care program reduced SNF stays 27%, hospital finds

A hospital substantially reduced Medicare costs and skilled nursing facility stays by providing more primary care in frail elders' homes, according to study findings published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Introduced bill calls for mandated hospice inspections

Hospices would need to undergo an inspection every three years under a bill introduced by a New York congressman.

Also in the news for August 6, 2014 . . .

MACs to clamp down on simultaneous skilled nursing and home health claims ... Let natural light into work stations for better nurse performance ... NorthStar buys senior living REIT Griffin-America for $3 billion ... Consumer advocates applaud bill to put more RNs in skilled nursing facilities

More deficiencies, fewer registered nurses at nursing homes owned by private equity, researchers find

Nursing homes under private equity ownership are cited for more deficiencies and have fewer registered nurses on staff than other for-profit facilities, according to recently published research findings.

Residents have refused meds, tried to flee secure unit since talking to surveyor, nursing home charges

Residents have refused meds, tried to flee secure unit since talking to surveyor, nursing home charges

An Ohio nursing home has been trying to care for residents who became defiant after speaking with a state inspector, according to legal charges reported Monday by Courthouse News Service.

CMS finalizes 1.4% increase for hospices

Hospices can expect an estimated 1.4% increase in their payments for the fiscal year 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday.

Also in the news for August 5, 2014 . . .

RAC reviews restart on limited basis ... New website tracks compliance with home- and community-based care rules ... Difficulties shopping, balancing checkbook are reliable signals of mild cognitive impairment

Broker admits using nursing home residents as pawns in annuities scheme, agrees to $850,000 settlement

The mastermind of a financial fraud that victimized nursing home residents has admitted wrongdoing and will pay $850,000 in a settlement, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday.

Long-term care advocacy group cheers executive order barring arbitration agreements, urges further action

A prominent long-term care consumer advocacy group hailed a recent executive order banning certain government contractors from using arbitration agreements, saying this is a step toward eliminating these agreements in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Proposed law would mandate minimum direct care nurse hours

Proposed law would mandate minimum direct care nurse hours

A bill that would establish a minimum direct care nurse staffing hours at Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities was introduced by an Illinois congresswoman last week.

Also in the news for August 4, 2014 . . .

C. diff vaccine 100% effective in animal studies ... Ascension says senior care division to become nation's second largest nonprofit LTC provider ... Anticholinergics found to impair both ADLs and cognition

Harkin: Divert funds from SNF settings

Harkin: Divert funds from SNF settings

Medicaid funds would more easily flow toward people wanting home- and community-based services — and away from nursing homes — under a new bill unveiled by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

Gardens can ease dementia

Gardens can ease dementia

Gardens in nursing homes can help patients with dementia, new research indicates.

Most residents are incontinent

More than 75% of long-term residents are incontinent, as well as nearly half (46%) of short-term residents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Feds: Tie ACO ratings to SNFs

Accountable care organizations should be assessed on which patients bounce back to a member hospital within 30 days of being discharged to a skilled nursing facility, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asserts in a proposed rule.

Congress grills top judge on appeals jam backlog

Congress grills top judge on appeals jam backlog

There is no easy fix to the staggering backlog of Medicare appeals, a government official said during a July 10 Congressional hearing.

Heading toward a single payer?

Heading toward a single payer?

Providers should expect to be paid exclusively through managed care systems by 2025, a former White House adviser said in July.

AL supply up, SNFs in decline

Nursing home inventory is continuing its slow but steady downward trajectory, according to quarterly data released in July by the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry.

Respecting his elders

Respecting his elders

Michael D. Gore made great strides professionally this spring, but it also was a season of sadness for the rising long-term care leader. His grandmother died at the age of 87 after spending her last weeks in the Lincoln Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Hamlin, WV. Gore was the center's executive director at the time.

Brain gym offers mental exercise

Brain gym offers mental exercise

Nursing home residents and surrounding community members can break a mental sweat at The Village's new brain gym offered by the University of Florida's Health Vitality Mind research program.

Beyond surface cleaning

Beyond surface cleaning

Providers use room turnover as an opportunity to eliminate sometimes deadly bugs by layering basic cleaning with next-generation solvents and technology

Rehab settings in flux

Rehab settings in flux

Providers are establishing therapy rooted in person-centered care, including activities that help cognitive functioning, balance, memory and awareness

Climb every mountain

Climb every mountain

I'm obsessed by mountains, particularly the ones I'm staring at right now in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Marvelous, epic monoliths of rock and ice, they dominate and intimidate. "Look up here, you tiny, transient human writing your little long-term care articles," they're taunting. "We've been here forever. You want a piece of us?"

Blockbuster productions that you want no part in

Blockbuster productions that you want no part in

With another summer of huge movies nearly behind us, it's a good time for providers to exhale in relief. Or wonder anxiously if they have been on camera themselves. Especially if Mike DeWine would be the film's producer.

Supreme indifference

Supreme indifference

It has been said that we are the residue of our choices. If that's true, what should we make of the Supreme Court these days?

A building in the 'LEED'

Benchmark's new community has a high-end beach house vibe and eco-friendly features that put it on the cutting edge of senior care

How to do it ... Resident security

Resident security touches the job of every person in a long-term care environment. Facility staff are concerned with security. IT people need systems that integrate well with computers and servers. And nurses rely on systems to keep residents safe and staff productive. Here's how to spread the decision-making.

CompanyBriefs August 2014

» Optimus EMR announced it will include INTERACT 3.0 in upcoming release. The tool will be an embedded part of its Clinical Decision Support Module. Customers attending the Optimus Information Exchange in October will be able to hear additional details.

Two medications are approved by FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two medications in June that may benefit long-term care patients.

New incontinence products pushed to nurses, providers

New incontinence products pushed to nurses, providers

Incontinence management remains a hot commodity in long-term care, with three companies debuting products.

Ask the legal expert ... about preserving census

Ask the legal expert ... about preserving census

Our senior resident community is under financial distress. What major things should we do to preserve census?

Kindred named in class-action lawsuit

Kindred Healthcare plans to "vigorously" fight a lawsuit filed by some California employees alleging failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, and restricting break times, among other charges.

Pre-hire medical exams and screenings broke law: judge

Pre-hire medical exams and screenings broke law: judge

A provider who conducted pre-employment medical exams and screenings acted illegally, even when it hired some of the individuals, a federal judge has ruled.

State News for August 2014

State News for August 2014

KANSAS — The state no longer will publicly release survey results for nursing homes going through the informal dispute resolution process, the Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) recently announced. Long-term care associations and consumer advocacy groups have protested the new system, the Kansas Health Institute News Service reported.

ITUpdate for August 2014

» David R. Hunt, M.D., FACS, the medical director of Health IT Adoption and Patient Safety in the Office of the National Coordinator, urged uniform standards for health IT at the LTPAC HIT Summit in Baltimore. Patient safety is "completely embedded in the concept of a shared vision of interoperability," he explained. It is "indistinguishable from the delivery of quality healthcare." However, providers should resist the urge to consider the reduction of errors as being the same as mitigation of harm.

I couldn't live without ... AOD Answers

I couldn't live without ... AOD Answers

AOD Answers™ has allowed Cantata Adult Life Services and Business Performance Services to have an electronic health record of their residents and to conduct a healthy business, says Pamela Patterson, CCRN, director of informatics and corporate compliance officer.

EHR 'solutions' research retains relevance: panelist says

EHR 'solutions' research retains relevance: panelist says

The CIO Consortium & Nurse Executive Council's white paper, "Electronic Health Record Solutions LTPAC Providers Need Today," still has relevance to long-term care providers working through new technology, panelists said at the Long Term and Post Acute Care Health IT Summit.

BusinessBriefs for August 2014

» Center Management Group of Flushing, NY, will pay $145 million to purchase five nursing facilities and two senior living communities from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The company currently operates 15 nursing facilities across New York and New Jersey. As part of the deal, the buyer has pledged to maintain the Catholic character of the nursing homes.

Hospitalist firm charged

A hospitalist company that works with thousands of facilities is facing federal charges that its clinicians routinely overbilled Medicare and Medicaid, authorities recently announced.

Skilled care companies seek site-neutral Medicare rates

Skilled care companies seek site-neutral Medicare rates

Proposed Medicare payment changes have put the nation's skilled care companies at odds with inpatient rehabilitation providers, and the two sides were making strident arguments in front of lawmakers at press time.

Ask the payment expert ... about Medicare audit guidelines

Ask the payment expert ... about Medicare audit guidelines

What guidelines should we use for a Medicare audit?

Hospitals: Change SNF pay

The government should adopt Medicare payment policies that better support hospital-based skilled nursing facilities, the American Hospital Association urged in a recent letter to a top healthcare official.

Better anti-fraud efforts are not appeasing lawmakers

Better anti-fraud efforts are not appeasing lawmakers

Long-term care facilities and other Medicare providers increasingly have seen reimbursements influenced by the government's Fraud Prevention System, an official recently told a Congressional panel.

Ask the nursing expert ... about managing across generations

Ask the nursing expert ... about managing across generations

How can I navigate the many variables I'm faced with — age, gender, culture, education levels — to put a quality team together?

Survey: Nurses under dangerous stress

A lack of necessary authority and problems with management are contributing to nurses' high levels of stress, according to recently released survey results.

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