State News for June 2017

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The bill’s authors, Democratic Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni G. Atkins, rallied with supporters — including a state nurses’ association —  in April.
The bill’s authors, Democratic Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni G. Atkins, rallied with supporters — including a state nurses’ association — in April.

CALIFORNIA

CALIFORNIA — The bill's authors, Democratic Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni G. Atkins, rallied with supporters — including a state nurses' association —  in April.

 State lawmakers are crafting a plan for every citizen of the state to be covered under a proposed single-payer system.

By late April, an early version of the plan had been approved 5-2 in a Senate Health Committee. The measure will move on to exploring issues such as the use of electronic health records and securing waivers from the federal government to administer Medicare and Medi-Cal funds, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Lawmakers were scheduled to complete a detailed financial analysis before passing revisions on to the Senate's Appropriations Committee.

Early versions of SB 562 would provide all medical expenses, including inpatient, outpatient, mental health and nursing home care. Among its supporters is the California Nurses Association.

The measure's authors studied Canada, which has long had single-payer healthcare.

SOUTHEAST

PPS transition blasted

FLORIDA — The head of the state's LeadingAge organization strongly supports efforts to transition the state's Medicaid program to a prospective payment model — just not the version that has been under budget consideration in the state Senate.

Writing in a local newspaper editorial, Steve Bahmer, president and CEO of LeadingAge Florida, criticized legislative efforts for shielding the plan from public scrutiny, as well as calling it a “risky gamble” that would guarantee $57 million in new Medicaid funding each year for the next three years.

Bahmer said the plan would jeopardize high-quality facilities while rewarding those with poor-quality issues. He asserted that even if the funding were provided as promised, as many as 152 nursing homes in the 

state with four- and five-star ratings would lose more than 23% of their Medicaid funds, while 97 facilities with the lowest ratings would benefit from a cumulative $29 million in new unrestricted funding.

Budget favors SNFs?

LOUISIANA — Skilled nursing care may be more than two times costlier per resident than less institutional options like home care and community-based services, but efforts to implement a Medicaid managed care plan are favoring nursing home care, claim published reports.

Still, current efforts seek to provide the elderly and disabled with a broader array
of choices than ever before, even in the face of a string of similar ill-fated managed care proposals.

Under the current FY 2016-2017 budget, nearly $1 billion is earmarked for the state's nursing homes, with only 23% of the total budget going to home- and community based services, according to published reports.

Program helps nurses

georgia — A program aimed at helping nurses re-enter the profession has made headlines for its unique approach at alleviating the state's nursing shortage.

The Rome, GA-based Blue Ridge Area Health Education Center program has been in operation since 2009, helping registered nurses who are either licensed in states other than Georgia, or had state credentials that have since lapsed.

So far 22 RNs have completed the program, with 20 of them practicing in rural areas of the state. Program officials told Georgia Health News their job placement rate is “great,” and that other areas could benefit from the re-entry approach.

“Anywhere that you go, if you have nurses that took the time to go to nursing school and paid the money to go to nursing school and took off for whatever reason and want to come back into the nursing field, then they need this program,” said Kimberly Parker, a preceptor with the Blue Ridge AHEC program.

SOUTHWEST

Snapchat suit filed

TEXAS — The family of a nursing home resident who appeared in inappropriate Snapchats is suing the facility, claiming it was negligent to hire the certified nursing assistant who posted the videos.

The CNA, Carlos Alberto Santa Cruz, was suspended from Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Duval in Austin, TX, after he allegedly posted to Snapchat in March. The videos showed a nursing home resident with what appeared to be feces on her hand being stimulated to tickle her nose. 

In the lawsuit, filed in early May and seeking $1 million in damages, the family said Cruz's arrest record of fraud, marijuana possession and criminal mischief should have prevented him from being hired.

MIDWEST

Medicaid plan tabled

OHIO — Long-term care providers are breathing a sigh of relief after a plan to transition the Medicaid system to managed care was tabled until 2021.

The news came even as a report on MyCare Ohio, a managed care pilot program, received positive reviews. In the midst of heated budget negotiations at press time, the Ohio Department of Medicaid report found MyCare Ohio saved $2.4 million a month while cutting nursing home stays by 4%. The report found discharges from nursing homes to home care netted about $2,800 a month in average savings, according to Cleveland.com

Lingering issues with administrative and billing problems have continued to haunt the pilot program, however. Proponents who favored immediate implementation of a statewide Medicaid managed care program said the delay could leave a $132 million gap and jeopardize care for thousands of recipients.

SNF cited in lift incident

minnesota — A skilled nursing facility located in Winona has been found negligent in the death of a resident who fell from a ceiling lift.

Lake Winona Manor was cited in a report published by the Minnesota Department of Health in May. The incident in question occurred in 2016, when a resident was left unattended on an unlocked commode. 

The commode slid away from the resident, causing her to fall from the lift and fracture both legs. Blunt force trauma from the incident was counted as a contributing factor in the resident's eventual death.

The facility was not fined for the incident and took immediate action to educate staff on lift use, according to local reports.

EAST

Bill on SNF sales scrapped

NEW YORK — The state Senate Health Committee has scrapped a bill whose proponents say would have discouraged owner-operators from closing nursing homes.

The so-called Rivington Act, which included a community-driven vetting procedure, was inspired by a Lower East Side HIV/AIDS facility shut down in 2015 and sold to developers, according to DNAinfo. 

The measure also would have required the health department to prepare a community impact report before facility closures are approved.

The bill's sponsors pushed for a “no vote” in order to improve the measure's chance of passing at a later date.

Bills focus on shortages

MAINE — State officials are scrambling to find ways to curb long-term care worker shortages while assuring gender equality.

According to projections, the state is going to need an additional 1,600 registered nurses, nearly 500 nurse practitioners and physician assistants and about 2,500 direct care workers over the next 10 years, Bangor Daily News reported.

Three current pieces of legislation are aimed at the labor issue. 

One measure, LD 1466, would boost reimbursement to nursing homes, residential facilities and home care agencies by 10% through 2019 on the condition the extra money would be allocated toward higher wages.

Other bills now on the table would allow nurses to and from Maine and other states to work where they wish, and vice versa, and allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to do some of the work currently relegated only to physicians.