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Archive June 2022

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MHCA End of Session Legislative Report

The Second Regular Session of the 130th Maine Legislature adjourned sine die Monday, May 9, 2022. In addition to MHCA’s advocacy on the State Budget, the Association tracked 37 bills, providing testimony or information as appropriate. The general effective date for nonemergency laws passed during this time is Monday, August 8, 2022. Bills deemed an emergency become effective the day they are signed by the Governor. Please see the MHCA End of Session Legislative Report for the comprehensive list of bills we followed during the session, our position, and the final outcome.

Staff contact: ngrosso@mehca.org

TRI during Probable or Confirmed Outbreaks

Temporary Rate Increases (TRI) are available to providers during CONFIRMED outbreaks. By CDC definition, probable outbreaks are a minimum of 5 cases at a facility, within 14 days, and ALL are antigen POC tests run via a certified CLIA lab/staff and then entered in REDCap accordingly. A confirmed outbreak is a minimum of 5 cases within 14 days and at least 1 has to be a PCR test run by a lab such as HETL. We can NOT use at home tests for outbreaks for any reason. Good as a reference but the CDC recommends lab confirmation with a PCR to fully confirm their positive status and document their case for the 90-day window after being positive. Maine CDC bases the dates on the test collection date and NOT the report date since there can be delays in the reporting date. The Maine CDC can close the outbreak when the facility has gone 14+ days without a new case. Once they close the first time, the facility must go another 14 days without any new cases. If a new case pops up anytime in those 14 days, we re-open the outbreak back to its initial status of confirmed and testing etc must continue.
 
Increased reimbursement rates (TRI) are only applicable during CONFIRMED outbreaks and for the times the outbreak is open. These funds are designed for assisting with the extra cost of handling COVID in your facility and there are rules on how you use them of course. 

As a note, if the facility does not want the increased rates, then they are not obligated to get them. It’s an option. The outbreak and response stays the same but no extra billing changes are necessary. If there are any discrepancies about dates etc – please contact Joel Vail, Maine CDC Epi (
Joel.Vail@maine.gov) directly with a line list and he is willing to audit or validate any data to ensure CDC systems are up to date. 

Staff Contact: 
dwatford@mehca.org

Final opportunity to register for Assisted Housing Infection Control Program

Don't miss your chance to participate in the upcoming web series, The New Normal for Infection Control in Assisted Housing. This program, and the corresponding toolkit (including infection prevention policy templates), has become an excellent resource for many assisted housing providers.
 
The content aligns with CMS infection prevention practices as well as CDC guidance on outbreaks and surveillance and infection prevention best practices. Topics include infection control and reducing risk, standard/other type precautions, PPE, department-specific procedures, COVID-19 policies and procedures, rule changes, and more.
 
MHCA will offer this two part webinar series online (via Zoom) on June 22 & 23, from 9:00-11:30AM. For more details and to register, please visit the event page on our website.
 
Staff Contact: aellis@mehca.org

AHCA online training program: Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Academy

Money is incredibly tight for SNF members with ever-rising costs and sluggish census numbers. AHCA’s online training program titled Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Academy takes a holistic interdisciplinary approach toward SNF revenue management and helps develop concrete strategies to secure earned dollars and to “stay paid.”  RCM Academy helps SNFs:
  • Prepare for the eventual phase down of COVID-related government assistance
  • Stabilize and better manage a predictable revenue flow relative to overhead
  • Stay paid when considering Medicare Advantage Plan payment recovery trends.
To view the program flyer, please click here.

NHSN Revisions to COVID-19 Modules

The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) recently announced various revisions to the COVID-19 module pathways, which AHCA/NCAL has outlined here. The LTC COVID-19 Module forms are updated and available on the NHSN website
 
The new vaccination form will be available on the
COVID-19 Vaccine Module by tomorrow, June 3. In the meantime, members can review the recent NHSN training slide deck for an in-depth overview of the changes made to the COVID-19 vaccination module. Please note that these changes are active for the current reporting period.

Staff Contact: 
dwatford@mehca.org

CMS Updates to QSO-20-41 Emergency Preparedness Exercise Exemption

On May 26, 2022, CMS released a newly updated version of QSO-20-41 which clarifies that providers are exempt from the 2021 and 2022 full scale exercise (FSE) so long as the facility is still operating under an activated emergency plan or has reactivated its plan due to COVID-19.

If you choose to utilize the exemption, you should ensure you document your organization's COVID-19 response in a formal After-Action Report (AAR). If you already have completed a COVID-19 AAR in a previous year, you should consider updating the AAR to reflect on-going response, lessons learned and opportunities for improvement. AHCA/NCAL members can access a
COVID-19 AAR Template on the website.

One key component to a comprehensive AAR is an Improvement Plan (IP). The IP should serve as roadmap for future plan enhancements and training focus.

Don't forget that documenting your organization's COVID-19 response will only address one of the two required annual exercises.  To comply with CMS requirements, facilities must still conduct one of the following:
  • Another full-scale exercise
  • Individual-facility-based functional exercise
  • Mock disaster drill
  • A tabletop exercise or workshop.
Read the full updated CMS QSO memo.

Staff Contact: 
dwatford@mehca.org

Long term care shines at 19th anniversary of Remember ME

MHCA celebrated its 19th annual Remember ME Photography Exhibit and Recognition Ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center yesterday. This year, recipients had the option of attending the event live with COVID-19 safety protocols in place or watching the ceremony via a live stream. Of the 32 winners, approximately half chose in person and half chose the virtual option, making for a successful hybrid event. View it here: https://www.mehca.org/rememberme2022. 
 
MHCA staff applauded the accomplishments of this year’s honorees, citing the day as the “best day of the year for Maine Health Care Association.” Award recipients range in age from 37-100, bringing our total to 672 deserving individuals since the inception of the program.  
  
MHCA would like to thank this year’s judges: Nadine Grosso, MHCA Staff Representative; Paul Saucier, Office of Aging and Disability Services, Outside Agency Representative; and Courtney Freeman, Northbridge Companies, MHCA Board Representative. We appreciate their time and expertise.  
 
In addition to our annual sponsors, Sysco, Cross Insurance, Medline and TwinMed, we also thank event sponsors for their financial support. They are:  
 
  • BELFOR Property Restoration 
  • Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice 
  • Genesis HealthCare 
  • Schooner Estates Senior Living Community 
  • MHCA Workers' Compensation Fund 
  • Continuum Health Services  
  • Russell Park Rehab & Living Center 
  • Fallbrook Woods  

As always, we thank the staff that makes it possible for the residents to participate in the event. Again, congratulations to all of our honorees – it’s our pleasure to salute you! 

**Masks were removed for photos.
 
Staff contact: ngrosso@mehca.org 

 

 

AHCA/NCAL Diversity Executive Leadership Program Application Deadline is June 9th

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has announced the inaugural provider member Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) will accept applications through Thursday, June 9.
 
Ten individuals will be selected to participate in the two-year program. Additional information including eligibility and program requirements is available on our website.
 
DELP has two objectives:
  • To provide individuals from under-represented groups in AHCA/NCAL, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, disability and religion, support, access and opportunities for leadership.
  • To provide AHCA/NCAL with increased access to a diverse pool of talented, engaged members and/or leaders such as committee members and chairs, board members, AHCA Council of States representatives and NCAL State Leaders. 
Qualified DELP applicants must be:
  • Members of an under-represented identity group including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, disability and religion.
  • Full-time employee of an AHCA/NCAL provider member facility in good standing.
  • Currently employed as a mid- to senior-level or C-suite professional at an AHCA/NCAL provider member.
  • Have at least three years' experience in mid- to senior-level long term care management positions or at least one year as a C-suite executive.
  • Demonstrate professional, volunteer or civic/community leadership experience.
 During the two-year program DELP scholars will receive complimentary registration and travel to attend:
  • DELP Orientation
  • Future Leaders Symposium (first year)
  • Political Ambassadors Program (second year)
  • AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention and Expo (both years)
  • AHCA/NCAL Congressional Briefing (both years)
Please contact Christy Herle at cherle@ahca.org or 202-898-2839 for additional information.
 
Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org

Nursing Homes and Residential Care Facilities (PNMI-Cs) Need to Submit Data to DHHS for 125% Minimum Wage Payment Calculations

In case you missed it, last week the Maine Department of Health and Human Services sent out an email with instructions for long term care facilities to submit data needed to calculate minimum wage payments to providers. 

Part AAAA-5 of the budget enacted last summer (Public Law 2021 Chapter 398) requires that the rates in the 7/1/22 rate letters “enable providers to cover labor costs for essential support workers…to equal at least 125% of the minimum wage […including…] related taxes and benefits [...]”
 
The Department has developed this template to collect employee-level data from the facilities, in order to calculate the payment necessary to each facility to bring reimbursement for workers under 125% of minimum wage up to 125% of minimum wage.
 
The template is due no later than COB on Thursday, June 24, 2022.  The Department will then use the resulting data to calculate the total amount for each facility for Part AAAA which will be incorporated in the FY 2023 rates. Any delay in receiving the template may result in delays with the issuance of the rate letters. 
 
Instructions are included in the template.  If you have questions, please contact Grace.Williams@maine.gov.
 
MHCA encourages members to submit their data in a timely manner.
 
Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org

MHCA Leadership to Attend Congressional Briefing Next Week

Representatives from the Maine Health Care Association will be attending AHCA/NCAL Congressional Briefing in Washington DC on June 6-7. Meetings have been scheduled with Senator Collins, Senator King, Representative Pingree and Representative Golden.  
 
MHCA Congressional Briefing Attendees will include:
  • Angela Westhoff, MHCA President/ CEO
  • John Bolduc, MHCA Board Member & Executive Director, Odd Fellows & Rebekah’s Home
  • Jessica Duffy, MHCA Board Member & Director of Health Services at 75 State Street
  • Amanda Nelson, MHCA Member & Executive Director, Oak Grove Center
More than 500 skilled nursing providers are expected to attend Congressional Briefing to press federal lawmakers for solutions on staffing and revenue issues that are impacting access to long term care.           
 
We know that the long term care sector is facing a 15-year labor low, losing more than 400,000 jobs since the pandemic began. Nearly every nursing home and assisted living community in the United States is facing a workforce crisis. In addition to the staffing crisis, we will also be talking with members of about CMS Parity Adjustment proposal.
 
For FY 2023, CMS has proposed a Skilled Nursing Facility net rate cut of 0.7% resulting from a 3.9% adjusted market basket increase offset by a 4.6% parity adjustment reduction. CMS is proposing parity adjustment to ensure costs under the new Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) are no more than under the old payment system. The proposed parity adjustment would result in a net $320 Million reduction of SNF payments in FY 23, and the sector cannot absorb this cut.
 
Our ask in Washington will be to have CMS phase in this reduction over three years (i.e. 1.5% per year) and work with the long term care sector to ensure that the annual Market Basket update adequately accounts for labor cost increases. AHCA has developed a detailed summary of the impact of the payment reductions in the proposed rule.
 
MHCA members are strongly encouraged to submit comments to CMS on the proposed cuts by June 10th by 5:00 pm.  
 
Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org
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