Archive January 2022

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National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call, February 2, 2022 @ 3:00pm ET

Join the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a National Stakeholder Call providing updates on COVID-19, revisions to nursing home guidance, and best practices. Additionally, subject matter experts from CDC and CMS will address frequently asked questions.

When: Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 3:00 PM-3:45 PM ET
Where: Zoom link will be provided following registration.
  • Lee Fleisher, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CMS)
  • Jean Moody Williams, Deputy Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CMS)
  • Kara Jacobs-Slifka, Long Term Care Lead, Prevention and Response Branch (CDC)
  • Evan Shulman, Director, Division of Nursing Homes (CMS)
Who should attend: Long term care providers, facility staff and resident advocates.

Registration is required.

Staff Contact:

Legislative session highlights for the week of January 24th

MHCA testified on two bills this week including:
LD 1849, An Act to Clarify Inspection Requirements for Hospitals and Certain Nursing Facilities
LD 1858, An Act Regarding Delegating Authority for Services Performed by Emergency Medical Services Personnel in Health Care Facilities
With respect to inspection requirements for nursing facilities, the bill seeks to remove the requirement for multi-level facilities (NF and AL) must receive a single coordinated licensing and fire code inspection. MHCA testified neither for nor against the bill and raised concerns about limited staff time and unnecessary duplication of effort when shared spaces (i.e. kitchen, dining, activities, etc.) may be surveyed twice. We asked that if the statutory requirement were to be changed then language should be added to prevent undue duplication of effort in surveying multi-level facilities. Work session is scheduled for February 3rd.
The other bill, LD 1858, proposes to expand delegation of medical services to a licensed emergency services person to “health care facilities” and further adds that the individual may be employed or a contracted agent of the hospital or health care facility. MHCA testified in qualified support, seeking to gain clarity on the definition of health care facility and if it was contemplated to include nursing homes. In our testimony, we noted the serious staffing crisis facing our members and that the pandemic has certainly demanded flexibility, ingenuity, and collaboration. If there are creative ways to utilize EMS workers in long term care settings, we indicated a desire to explore possibilities, open communication, and possibly work together. No work session has been scheduled yet.
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Members of Congress call on White House to investigate staffing agency price gouging

This week our U.S. House of Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden joined nearly 200 other House members in a bipartisan letter to the White House raising the dire work force issue and concerns with nurse-staffing agencies. In the letter to the White House COVID-19 Response Team, members state:
“We are writing because of our concerns that certain nurse-staffing agencies are taking advantage of these difficult circumstances to increase their profits at the expense of patients and the hospitals that treat them. We urge you to enlist one or more of the federal agencies with competition and consumer protection authority to investigate this conduct to determine if it is the product of anticompetitive activity and/or violates consumer protection laws.”
MHCA thanks Representatives Pingree and Golden for signing onto this letter and shining a light on this serious issue. The costs of agency staffing are unsustainable and further exacerbates the staffing crisis and strain on the health care system.
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Remember ME deadline extended

Nominations to the Remember ME program continue coming in and MHCA is pleased to see the support for this program has not waned despite the challenges of the pandemic. To accommodate members’ schedules, MHCA is extending the deadline to next Friday, February 4, 2022.
To nominate your resident, please go to the following link and click on the nomination form box where you will complete the form. To avoid losing your work, copy and paste full narrative from Word. Submissions must be completed in one session. Partial nominations will not be saved.
Remember ME 2022 Nomination Form

Due to the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic, we will wait until Spring to make a determination about a live ceremony this year. In the meantime, we look forward to reading your nominations!

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Observation Stay win in Barrows v. Becerra

This week was a win in court for Medicare beneficiaries and the skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) who provide care to these individuals most in need. Under Medicare law (when not in the current Public Health Emergency as the 3-day stay requirement is currently waived), patients must have an inpatient stay in a short-term acute care hospital spanning at least three consecutive days (not counting the day of discharge) in order for Medicare to pay for a subsequent stay in a SNF. However, acute care hospitals are increasingly identifying patients as in “observation,” an outpatient designation, rather than admitting them as inpatients.

Outpatients may stay for multiple days and nights in hospital beds and receive medical and nursing care, diagnostic tests, treatments, medications, and food, just as inpatients do. However, although the care received by patients in observation status can often be indistinguishable from the medically necessary care received by inpatients, outpatients who need follow-up care do not qualify for Medicare coverage in a SNF. As a result, the Medicare beneficiary ends up being responsible for paying for the SNF stay, which places an unfair burden on the beneficiary through no fault of the beneficiary. Patients do not have hearing rights to challenge their observation status.
In Barrows v. Becerra, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court and ruled yesterday that Medicare beneficiaries whose status in the hospital is changed from inpatient to outpatient have the right to a hearing to challenge the change. This is a positive step forward in helping to ensure Medicare beneficiaries are not denied their needed SNF benefit. AHCA submitted an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs and fully supports that a right to appeal should exist.

MHCA has long advocated for changes to the antiquated policy and unfair practice that only serves to hinder Medicare beneficiaries’ access to skilled nursing care. We are pleased to see this step in the right direction.

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HHS increasing testing supplies to nursing facilities and assisted living communities

AHCA/NCAL has been advocating to the federal government to increase the supply of test kits to nursing homes and assisted living communities. The Association has learned that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be shipping an additional five million tests over the next five weeks. The shipments will be in addition to the existing Abbott BinaxNOW shipments and will be shipped directly to facilities.

The amount of test kits will be based on the COVID-19 prevalence in your county, as well as the number of residents and staff in your facility/community. These additional test kits will be the oral-pharyngeal 5M Celltrion POC tests. 

These additional shipments are still meant to supplement existing demand and may not completely meet your testing needs. You are encouraged to continue outreach to your state or local health department and suppliers for additional testing supplies to keep them apprised of the demand.

AHCA/NCAL will continue to advocate to the federal government for more facility test kits. ?

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Hospitals encouraged to administer booster shots to those seeking LTC prior to discharge

AHCA/NCAL has been working with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the federal government to encourage hospitals to administer the booster shot to eligible individuals prior to discharge to long term care facilities. 

The AHA sent out a special bulletin in early January to all hospitals encouraging patients be vaccinated prior to discharge to congregate settings, which includes nursing homes and assisted living. We hope this will increase the number of individuals being admitted to facilities who are up to date with their vaccines. 

Booster shots in the elderly and those with underlying health conditions have continued to show dramatic protection against hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 variants, including Omicron.

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MHCA looking forward to launch of Nurse Manager Certificate Program next week

We are proud to share that there has been an enthusiastic response to the 2022 Virtual Nurse Manager Certificate Program. With more attendees registered than ever before, it is clear that this leadership focused program is in high demand. We are pleased to share there is still time to register your charge nurse/nurse manager staff. The program is offered virtually over three afternoons and will provide education in the following key areas:
  • Communication Styles and Strategies 
  • Team Building Concepts and Methods
  • Directing Staff & Managing Performance
  • Managing Conflict
  • Leading through Change, Fostering Resiliency Among Your Staff
  • Qualities of an Effective Leader
  • Coaching Supervision
For more information and to register, please click here.

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MHCA to offer Life Safety Bootcamp: Registration now open

MHCA is excited to share that we are now accepting registrations for Life Safety Bootcamp, a newly created, two-day web based program. During this program, participants will develop strategies to understand practical applications of the Life Safety Code and learn from life safety experts on what to prepare for during survey. This training has been tailored specifically to Maine LTC providers and will use real life examples and survey scenarios to explore code changes and the increased inspection, testing and maintenance requirements included in the current life safety survey. In addition, participants will review common violations and be provided with sample policies, procedures, and templated support documents to assist your home in NFPA compliance.
When: March 9 & 10, 2022 from 12:00PM - 4:00PM
For full details, please refer to the program flyer. To register, please complete the online form found here.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me  in the association office at 207.623.1146

Staff Contact: 

REMINDER: MHCA Wage & Fringe Benefit Survey - Urgently request surveys by February 2!

An urgent reminder to complete and return the 2022 MHCA Wage & Fringe Benefit Survey by February 2nd. Your input is vital as workforce recruitment and retention will remain prominent issues this legislative session. Having this valuable data will aid our advocacy efforts at the Maine Legislature. As always, individual responses will remain confidential. 
Our thanks and appreciation for all those who have already completed and returned their surveys!
REMINDER: Surveys should be completed for individual facilities; data should not be combined/averaged for multiple facilities within a corporation. 
If you need a copy of the survey sent to you (or other staff member), please contact Dianne at the Association office (207.623.1146, ext. 201)
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