State News for April 2018

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Gov. John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards

LOUISIANA

16,500 could be forced out of SNFs in funding fight

About 60,000 elderly or disabled Medicaid recipients in Louisiana are being told they should expect to lose their benefits in July, and advocates say more than a quarter of them could be forced out of the long-term care facilities they call home.

The notifications are the result of a stalemate over the state budget, which expires June 30.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has proposed eliminating some Medicaid programs that provide longterm care in order to cope with a $994 million deficit. Those receiving warnings will include 46,000 Medicaid recipients who qualify for long-term care in a nursing home or at their personal residence, but also have personal income between $750 and $2,250 monthly.

About 14,000 people who get at-home personal care assistance are also likely to lose coverage, the Times-Picayune reported. Some long-term care recipients might qualify for other types of Medicaid, but it won't cover the full cost of services, according to Jeff Reynolds, the state health department's chief financial officer.

The Louisiana Nursing Home Association estimates about 16,500 residents would be forced out of nursing facilities if the cuts are finalized. Legislators were still trying to avoid the Medicaid cuts by shifting state money or approving new taxes, but they failed to do so in a special session that ended in the middle of March. They had not proposed any alternatives to the cuts the governor proposed, as of press time.

MIDWEST

Private data shared

KANSAS — A now-fired staff member with Kansas' Department for Aging and Disability Services improperly disclosed personal information for 11,000 people in an email sent to multiple addresses, state officials acknowledged.

Department spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said the breach includes Social Security numbers, birthdates and other identifying information for Medicaid recipients and others. The agency said it had no indication the information had been misused since the disclosure was discovered in February. The information was improperly emailed to local contractors with the state's 11 area agencies on aging.

“KDADS emailed all of the individuals on the recipient list, advised them of the situation and asked them to delete or destroy the email,” de Rocha told local news outlets. The employee responsible was fired, and the state has contacted affected individuals and is reviewing its security policies. Strike nets employee raises

MISSOURI — Workers at Christian Care Home in Ferguson have approved a labor contract that calls for across-the-board raises following a 104-day strike.

The walkout started Dec. 1 and included nursing assistants, housekeepers and dietary workers represented by the SEIU Healthcare union. Representatives said about 65 full-time and 25 part-time workers joined the strike, with many playing an active role in picketing.

SEIU claimed the facility engaged in unfair labor practices. In December, employees said they were striking because operators canceled or refused vacation requests, and violated contract terms by switching workers' schedules.

According to the union, a local branch of the National Labor Relations Board made an “initial finding of merit” in its favor.

The Missouri secretary of state's office lists the nursing home's owner as the Christian Woman's Benevolent Association, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A woman who answered the phone there declined comment to the paper. The negotiated raises take effect March 1, 2019, or earlier if other staff get raises before then, according to local reports. The agreement also requires the facility to raise pay rates if the state's minimum wage goes up in 2019 and 2020. It also will pay increase in health insurance rates this year and half next year. Busted after patches theft 

ILLINOIS — A central Illinois nurse was arrested in March after allegedly stealing fentanyl patches off of residents at two nursing homes. Co-workers asked him why he was at work on his day off. He was arrested and charged with multiple counts of burglary and theft, local reports said.

NORTHEAST

Chief fails to disclose probe

NEW YORK — The head of nursing homes for Cattaraugus County resigned at the end of February after failing to disclose the ongoing investigation tied to the death of a 93-year-old patient.

Aides did not file any reports following the passing of the elderly resident, and extensive bruising was found on her body following a fall, according to local reports. She died after she was transferred to a local hospital.

Director Timothy Hellwig tendered his resignation in late February after failing to tell county officials about a state attorney general investigation into the nonagenarian's death, according to the Salamanca Press. That death investigation is on-going.

Cattaraugus County Attorney Eric Firkel told the newspaper that it appeared the Olean, NY, nursing home failed to follow protocols following the woman's fall, which caused her to suffer a traumatic brain injury and fractured collarbone.