Archive July 2021

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Deadline to register for AAPACN Resident Assessment Coordinator—Certified (RAC-CT) extended to August 17, 2021

Do you have staff who would like to become RAC-CT certified? MHCA is offering the AAPACN RAC-CT certification virtually, September 1-3, 2021 via Zoom. Of important note, MHCA offers this program only every other year and currently we need five more students to proceed with holding this year’s program. The deadline to register is Tuesday, August 17th.  

The RAC-CT certification is the most widely-recognized and respected MDS 3.0 certification available in the long-term care profession, as well as the mark of nurses who understand more than a paper form—they understand resident assessment.

When: September 1-3, 2021, 8:00am-5:00pm
Where: Zoom Virtual Platform
Instructor: Andrea Otis-Higgins, MBA, RN, MLNHA, RAC-MT, CHC

For more information and to register, please visit the website. Please reach out to Ashley Ellis, Director of Education with any questions.

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MHCA Board Votes to Support AHCA/NCAL Statement on Vaccinations of Long Term Care Workers

The Board of Directors for the Maine Health Care Association met earlier this week and voted to support the AHCA/ NCAL Policy Statement regarding vaccinations of long term care personnel. In the statement issued today, AHCA/NCAL strongly urged the vaccination of all health care workers to protect all residents, staff and community members from the known and substantial risks of COVID-19.

The statement highlights that COVID-19 vaccines protect health care personnel when working in health care facilities and in the community, and provides strong protection against workers unintentionally carrying the disease to work and spreading it to patients and peers.

Long term care providers have worked tirelessly to improve uptake among both residents and staff and we recognize you continue to work with your staff and residents to educate, offer, and encourage COVID-19 vaccinations.

AHCA/NCAL also supports providers that adopt mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for health care workers, with applicable state and local regulations shaping how policies are implemented. Each state and facility must make the best decision for their specific circumstances. 

In Maine, 70.7% of nursing home workers and 73% of assisted housing personnel are vaccinated so we still have work to do. We recognize the significant workforce challenges our long term care providers are facing, and we must ensure that we have enough caregivers to support our residents. We continue to focus on educational efforts to increase vaccination confidence and increase rates. Vaccines are the best tool we have to bring an end to this pandemic.

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MHCA's Friday Office Hours

MHCA will be undergoing technology upgrades Friday, July 30. We anticipate phone and internet interruptions from 9:00 a.m. to 12 Noon.

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Excellence in LTC Award Nomination Deadline Extended to AUGUST 6, 2021

Who will you nominate for a 2021 Excellence in Long Term Care Award?
This award recognizes employees statewide who consistently exemplify a commendable level of caregiving, dedication, and professionalism in caring for their residents/consumers. 
There's never been a better time to honor your caregivers. Nominating your staff requires a small investment of time and energy that has the potential to offer a great return. 

You may nominate 2 individuals from your facility - one direct care/nursing team member and one ancillary/other discipline team member. Winners who will be recognized during a special live event on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at Maple Hill Farm, just outside of Augusta.  Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or comments. We look forward to your nominations!

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CMS SNF/ LTC Open Door Forum Next Week

The next Open Door Forum is scheduled for Thursday, August 5, 2021 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern Time. This is a conference call only.
1. Opening Remarks
Chair – Todd Smith (Center for Medicare)
Moderator – Jill Darling (Office of Communications)
2. Announcements & Updates
3. Open Q&A
Please dial-in at least 15 minutes before call start time.
Dial: 1-888-455-1397 & Conference Passcode: 8604468
Instant Replay is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-800-391-9851. Instant Replay begins one hour after the call has ended and no passcode it needed. The recording expires August 7, 2021, 11:59 PM ET.
For ODF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit our website at

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Reminder: County Positivity Rates Still Apply

As many of you heard yesterday, Wednesday July 29, 2021 Gov. Janet Mills announced that Maine will follow the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated face covering guidance, which recommends that people wear face coverings in certain areas. Obviously, this is not applicable to our homes or care settings as staff are required to continue to mask regardless of our county transmission rates or vaccination status of the individual. 
The new CDC guidance recommends:
  • all people, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings in indoor, public settings in areas with “substantial” or “high” levels of community transmission; and
  • all teachers, staff, and students in K-12 schools wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission level.
In terms of our homes this new alignment does not change our current requirements; however, MHCA would like to remind you that when it comes to COVID testing frequency of UNVACCINATED staff members your county positivity rate still remains the measure that indicates your frequency. As of 7/22/2021 all Maine counties fall into the LOW range of positivity.

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Maine Mandatory Vaccination Reporting Update to Timing of Submission

In an email from Maine DHHS DLC date July 28, 2021, clarification on access to the state reporting site is limited to the first 6 days of the months. The Maine mandatory vaccine reporting requirement states that these numbers are due by the 5th of every month. 
The link by which facilities report their staff members’ COVID-19 vaccination rate to the State of Maine is only available, however, on the 1st through the 6th of each month. Those are the dates facilities can report the numbers for the prior months. (Ex: to report July numbers, facilities would access the link on any day starting August 1 thru August 6.)
If you try to report numbers on any other dates, you will see the message “This form is currently not accepting responses”. 
You can, however, see what numbers your facility already entered for prior months. Simply go to the MeCDC Dashboard, and find your facility. In the “Report Month” column next to your facility’s name, hover your cursor over the blue line. If you hover it over the right end of the blue line, you’ll get the most recent month’s numbers that your facility reported.
If you have any questions, please Lynn Hadyniak directly at
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REMINDER: 1135 Waiver of 3-Day Stay still in effect

As you know, HHS renewed the Public Health Emergency (PHE) on July 20. The PHE renewal also extends all Section 1135 waivers, irrespective of a state’s PHE status – the federal waivers remain in place. We have heard from some members regarding the status of the SNF 3-Day Stay Waiver and would like to provide a quick update from AHCA. 
Based upon the federal PHE renewal:
  • 3-Day Stay Waiver Remains in Effect:  The waiver language is unchanged:  “3-Day Prior Hospitalization. Using the authority under Section 1812(f) of the Act, CMS is waiving the requirement for a 3-day prior hospitalization for coverage of a SNF stay, which provides temporary emergency coverage of SNF services without a qualifying hospital stay, for those people who experience dislocations, or are otherwise affected by COVID-19. In addition, for certain beneficiaries who recently exhausted their SNF benefits, it authorizes renewed SNF coverage without first having to start a new benefit period (this waiver will apply only for those beneficiaries who have been delayed or prevented by the emergency itself from commencing or completing the process of ending their current benefit period and renewing their SNF benefits that would have occurred under normal circumstances).”  SOURCE:  CMS Waiver Document located at
  • SNF Providers Do Not Need Hospital Documentation:  The 3-Day Stay Waiver is intended to free up as many hospital beds as possible by allowing beneficiaries who meet the Skilled Care Criteria to be directly admitted to a SNF. In regard to documentation, SNFs need only document that the beneficiary meets the SNF Criteria for Skilled Care and code claims associated with waiver stays using the disaster billing codes. Billing instructions are located here:
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First Special Session of the 130th Legislature Adjourns, LTC Fares Well

The First Special Session of the 130th Legislature adjourned on Monday night, July 19th. Overall, long term care facilities fared well amidst the pandemic noise and competing legislative priorities. As previously reported, the State biennial budget includes $30 million in state MaineCare funds for LTC facilities. With the enhanced federal match in place until the end of this calendar year, MHCA estimates that it will result in approximately $120 million for nursing homes and PNMIs combined. MHCA staff is currently working with DHHS to determine how this funding will be distributed.

In addition to our budget success, five more MHCA legislative initiatives either passed or were carried over due to fiscal impact. None were voted down at the policy Committee level. The MHCA bill pertaining to CNA training was enacted (LD 784), while bills on bed-hold reimbursement (LD 1197), bed-banking (LD 250), health insurance as a fixed cost (LD 1112), and reimbursement to nursing facilities with high MaineCare use (LD 684) were carried over. Please note the bed-hold issue was addressed favorably in the biennial budget when the Appropriations Committee voted NOT to eliminate bed-hold payments. As such, it is likely that there will be no need for MHCA’s bill when the Legislature returns.

As the session came to a close, there was limited funding available to the Appropriations Committee to fund all the remaining bills “on the table.” The decision to carry over certain pieces of MHCA legislation keeps the issues on the docket, which is preferable to having to file new legislation.

In total, MHCA tracked 64 bills, providing testimony or information as appropriate. Most of the legislation supported by MHCA was either enacted or carried over and all of the bills MHCA opposed, except for the budget, were defeated. Please see the MHCA End of Session Legislative Report for the comprehensive list of bills that MHCA tracked during the session, our position, and the final outcome.

Additionally, our lobbying team at PretiFlaherty provided the attached high level summary of the session.

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Federal HHS Funding Addresses Mental Health and Burnout in Health Workforce

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced funding to reduce burnout and promote mental health among the health workforce. The estimated $103 million in American Rescue Plan funding over a three-year period will particularly consider the needs of rural and medically underserved communities. The funding will also help health care organizations establish a culture of wellness among the health and public safety workforce, and support training efforts that build resiliency for those at the beginning of their health careers. 

The announcement acknowledges that health care providers face many challenges and stresses due to high patient volumes, long work hours, and workplace demands. These challenges were amplified by COVID-19 and have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and in rural communities. The programs will support the implementation of evidence-informed strategies to help organizations and providers respond to stressful situations, endure hardships, avoid burnout, and foster healthy workplace environments that promote mental health and resiliency. 

There are three funding opportunities that are now accepting applications:  To apply for the Provider Resiliency Workforce Training Notice of Funding Opportunities, visit Applications are due August 30, 2021. Learn more about HRSA’s funding opportunities?

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