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Archive August 2022

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Announcing a CMS Virtual Listening Session with Health Care Providers and Suppliers on Emergency Preparedness

CMS will hold a virtual listening session with health care providers and suppliers on emergency preparedness on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET. CMS is looking to gather information from health care providers and suppliers on their experiences providing support during public health emergencies (PHE) outside of the COVID-19 PHE. The input and lessons-learned from this session will be used to evaluate CMS regulations regarding emergency preparedness for certain health care providers. CMS is especially interested in hearing input on these questions:
 
  1. What have been your facility's experiences in developing and implementing emergency preparedness plans under the CMS regulations? Do the current CMS emergency preparedness regulations create any unintended barriers in your work? If so, what are they? 
  2. What resources does your facility use to inform emergency preparedness plans under the CMS regulations? What additional resources could you use as you update your plans?
  3. How does your facility "stand down" or "recover" after emergency events? How long does this process take, and does it interrupt services for patients? Does your process include any type of "failure analysis" or other assessment that helps to identify and correct any issues experienced during an emergency?
 
This session is the second in a multi-part series being held on emergency preparedness. While this second session is geared toward health care providers and suppliers, other sessions seek information and feedback from State and Local emergency response entities and individual staff members. Questions will vary by session.
Prior to the listening session, you are encouraged to review the following rules as background:
 
 
HOW TO JOIN:
 
Please register HERE with your name, email, zip code, state, and organization name and type. Due to time constraints, capacity will be capped at 150 registrants. We encourage registration as soon as possible and ask that registrants be limited to each organization's leadership and/or subject matter experts who are knowledgeable and willing to provide feedback on the topics to be discussed.
 
Note: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the session. Instructions for manually adding an invite to your calendar will be included.
 
Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org

Federal Legislation Gaining Momentum

AHCA/NCAL has a few legislative priorities that are gaining momentum due to the hard work of the association and its advocates. HR 7744, Building America’s Health Care Workforce, also known as the TNA Workforce Bill. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced this bipartisan bill with cosponsors Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) & Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) in May 2022. Currently, in nursing homes, the 1135 waiver on training and certification of nurse aides allows vital support to critical staffing needs for care of residents during the pandemic. Based on this waiver, in spring 2020, AHCA/NCAL created a TNA training course. The TNA waiver ended on June 6, 2022, and only four months are provided in statute for TNAs to become CNAs. This bill provides a responsible grace period of 24 months to continue the emergency waivers after the public health emergency ends, enabling all TNAs who wish to become CNAs. The grace period accommodates the time that is needed for training and testing capacities to meet demands. 
 
After targeted lobbying efforts, including meetings and facility tours with MOCs, this bill currently has 22 cosponsors, and a Senate version of the bill is expected to be introduced this Fall.  
 
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-NC) reintroduced S. 4381 Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act in June 2022. Under current law, CNA training programs are automatically revoked for two years or cannot be initiated if a SNF is issued $11,995 or more in civil monetary penalties (CMPs). This CMP amount could be imposed for a reason that did not reflect quality of care, harm to a resident, or an episode that reflects systemic problems. 
 
This bipartisan bill will ensure that CNAs have access to the quality training needed to provide care to residents. This bill will specifically allow nursing facilities to resume their in-house education programs if: 
 
  • The facility has corrected the deficiency for which the CMP was assessed; 
  • The deficiency for which the CMP was assessed did not result in an immediate risk to patient safety and is not the result of patient harm resulting from abuse or neglect; 
  • The facility has not received a repeat deficiency related to direct patient harm in the preceding two-year period. 
 
This bill will also give providers access to the National Practitioner Data Bank to conduct background checks and help identify the best candidates. Through consistent and resilient efforts by AHCA/NCAL, a House version of this bill will be introduced in the upcoming weeks as Congress returns from District work. 
 
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, S. 1024 / H.R. 2255 is a bipartisan and bicameral bill gaining great support in both the House and the Senate. Introduced by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in the Senate and Reps. Bradley Schneider (D-IL), Rom Cole (R-OK), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) in the House. Both bills have gained bipartisan support with 25 Senate cosponsors and 70 Representative cosponsors. This bill would recapture unused visas from previous fiscal years for doctors, nurses, and their families. This legislation allows the entry of nurses with approved immigrant visas and allows physicians with approved immigrant petitions to adjust their status, so that they can work in long term care facilities and have a durable immigration status. In addition to setting aside these previously unused visas for physician and nurses, this bill also would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and State Department to expedite the processing of recaptured visas for highly trained nurses. 
 
Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org

Final opportunity to register for Navigating Maine's LTSS Webinar

This webinar has been designed to be a valuable resource for both new and experienced nursing home staff that are responsible for the completion or tracking of the MED and PASRR claim process. Nursing Home providers are required by Federal law to continually review the needs of their residents. Specifically, homes are required to request a medical assessment when there is any question whether a resident meets the Mainecare requirements for payment of nursing facility services. The State of Maine's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), through the Office of Aging and Disability (OADS), has contracted with MAXIMUS Ascend, to manage its Statewide Assessing Services. This single Assessing Services Agency (ASA) Program determines eligibility for programs and services that are vital to individuals living across the State. From assessments like the Medical Eligibility Determination (MED), Pre-Admission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) or Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), the program team at MAXIMUS Ascend provides a variety of different assessment services for the State of Maine. In this program we will review the process of determining eligibility for nursing home residents with leaders of Maine's Department of Health and Human long-term services and supports team as well as share MHCA developed tools, tip sheets and best practices from around the state.

Topics to be covered

  • Review MED Eligibility and Referral Process.
  • Review how to compile and submit necessary documentation for MED referrals.
  • Provide best practice education on PASRR assessments including eligibility and documentation requirements.
  • Identify documentation necessary to be compliant with referrals.
  • Identify common challenges or barriers to the assessment process.
  • Review documentation, policy, and procedure best practices from across the state.
  • Gain access to templated documents created by MHCA that will assist homes in streamlining their internal processes when requesting eligibility assessments.
For more information and to register, please click here.

Staff Contact: aellis@mehca.org

Funding available to attend MHCA Fall Conference (and other training opportunities) for free

In these trying times, professional development opportunities are more important than ever. Not only do employees gain valuable knowledge and skills to perform their jobs, but individuals also feel valued as a member of an organization that supports their growth and development. While we know this priority is crucial to retention efforts, we also understand the fiscal challenges facilities face. It is for these reasons we are deeply grateful to have an incredible resource to share.
 

MHCA has learned that facilities may utilize funding from the Maine Workforce Development Compact to attend the 2022 MHCA Fall Conference at the Samoset Resort! This exciting news also applies to individuals who have already registered for the event. Employers can be reimbursed for registration fees that have already been paid.
 

The first step to accessing funding is to become a compact member which will unlock the ability to provide up to $1200 of training to each individual in your organization, prior to December 31, 2022. Funding remains available in 2023, 2024, and 2025 as an employer match. Please reach out to alfondtraining@mccs.me.edu with any questions, there are dedicated individuals standing by to help.

For more information,
 please see the attached flyer.

Staff Contact: aellis@mehca.org

MMSF Golf Tournament Fundraiser: Register to Play and/or Sponsor Today!

Join us for the annual Mike McNeil Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament fundraiser on October 18, 2022, at the Samoset Resort, Rockport, Maine. Prizes include individual and team awards PLUS a chance to win $10,000 for a Hole in One!

We have the following sponsorship opportunities:
  • Workforce Champion: Event Sponsor - $2,500 SOLD
  • Workforce Patron: Swag Bag Sponsor - $1,500 / 1 available
  • Workforce Partner: Hole in One Sponsor - $1,000 / 1 available
  • Workforce Supporter: Hole Sponsor - $500 / 13 of 15 available
  • Raffle Prize Donations
Our thanks to BerryDunn and DLTC Healthcare for their Workforce Champion/Event sponsorships and Harmony Healthcare International (HHI) and Preferred Therapy Solutions for their Workforce Supporter/Hole sponsorships!

The Mike McNeil Scholarship Fund promotes careers in long term care through scholarships for individuals affiliated with MHCA long term care facilities. Scholarships are open to MHCA member facility employees, their immediate family members and volunteers wishing to pursue post-secondary education and training in the areas of Nursing, Physical or Occupational Therapy, Speech Pathology, Social Work, Activities and Food Service. To date, the Fund has awarded $74,000 to more than 120 students pursuing careers in long term care.
 
For more information, register to play and/or sponsor the event, click here.
 
Questions? Contact Dianne Chicoine, Tournament Coordinator (dchicoine@mehca.org or 207.623.1146, ext. 201)
 
Staff contact: dchicoine@mehca.org

Weekly Winners: Mike McNeil Scholarship Fund CASH Calendar raffle!

MHCA is excited to announce the final round of prize winners in the Mike McNeil Cash Calendar fundraiser. Congratulations to this year’s winners and thank you for your support of the Mike McNeil Scholarship Fund!
 
August 26 - $250.00 – Cindy Merrithew, Woodlawn Rehabilitation & Nursing Center
August 27 - $75.00 – Jane Livingston, The Landing at Cape Elizabeth
August 28 - $50.00 – Sharon Neill, Seal Rock Healthcare at Atlantic Heights
August 29 - $75.00 – Michael Seymour, Stillwater Health Care
August 30 - $100.00 – Roxanne Steward, Westgate Center for Rehabilitation and Alzheimer's Care
August 31 - $75.00 – Camela Deschene, Eastport Memorial Nursing Home
 
Winners will receive their prizes by mail prior to September 15th at the home address provided on the collection sheet.
 
Staff contact: dchicoine@mehca.org 

Maine CDC updates Availability of COVID POC Testing Kits

Since late 2020, Maine's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has distributed more than two million point of care (POC) COVID-19 rapid antigen tests to facilities serving high-risk populations, or to settings where access to testing is limited.  This distribution is in addition to the antigen testing options provided to schools, drive-up observed testing at Walgreens, as well as many other state-supported testing efforts.

The Maine CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness warehouse has served as a storage and distribution point for POC antigen tests. Through the fall, the warehouse will transition test distribution to a more streamlined operational model.  Entities that have historically received tests from Maine CDC may order tests through September 9, 2022. Those tests will then be distributed throughout September. 

There will also be two additional, limited windows for POC antigen test requests.  Between 9/28-9/30 and then 10/19-10/21, eligible entities can again request tests, which will be shipped following the ordering window. After these windows, Maine DHHS will maintain a small inventory of POC rapid antigen tests for outbreak support, as deemed appropriate through the Maine CDC Epidemiology Outbreak team.

To receive tests, entities must still meet the core requirements outlined since program inception, and noted on the order page through the link below. These tests are intended to support screening of symptomatic individuals. Because of the volume of requests anticipated, DHHS encourages entities to submit one request rather than multiple ones.  In addition, Maine DHHS may not be able to fulfill all requests based on available inventory, the recent volume of tests provided to an entity, or if an alternate source of tests is available. 

Please note that Maine DHHS will maintain testing options through other established programs, including Project ACT – which distributes kits of five tests to households – as well as drive-up testing at many Walgreens sites.
Tests can be requested through the following link: https://forms.office.com/g/ebn175YVWf.

As we shift into the current phase of the pandemic, Maine DHHS remains grateful to our many partners throughout the state that have supported the health and safety of Maine people through COVID-19 testing efforts.

Staff Contact: dwatford@mehca.org

CMS Revises QSO-22-15 to clarify TNA waiver eligibility

CMS has revised QSO-22-15-NH & NLTC & LSC: Update to COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Specific Providers to provide more information related to waivers of the Nurse Aide Training Competency and Evaluation requirements. 
 
CMS has created a formalized process to submit a request for a time-limited waiver via two options: 
  1. Individual Facility Waiver: When there are localized barriers to training/testing in a state or county not otherwise covered by a waiver, facilities may request a waiver by providing documentation of the barriers. The documentation must include information demonstrating that the aide(s) have attempted to become certified (e.g., enrollment in training or testing), but the NATCEP entity cannot accommodate the applicant(s) at this time.
  2. Statewide or County Waiver: When there are widespread barriers to training/testing that are statewide or in a particular county within a state, the state agency may submit a request for the waiver for the affected jurisdiction. The state agency must provide documentation of the status of their NATCEP program and a plan for remedying the situation.
  3. State agencies or facilities should submit waiver requests through this CMS portal. 
 
CMS indicated a state or facility cannot attain or retain a waiver longer than the declaration of a public health emergency (PHE), and it will grant these waivers for a timeframe that is as short as possible, only while the declaration of a COVID-19 PHE is still in effect. If the PHE ends during or before the granted period of waiver for a facility or a state or a county, the waiver also ends.

Staff Contact: 
dwatford@mehca.org

MHCA & MHCABS Nominating Committee seeks candidates - September 12th deadline

The Nominating Committee is seeking candidates for several open seats on the MHCA Board of Directors, including officer positions. The Board of Directors meets four to six times per year, usually in Augusta, with a virtual option available. 
 
Additionally, there is an opportunity to serve on the MHCA Business Service Board of Directors. MHCA Business Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Maine Health Care Association. It was established to provide members of the Association with group purchasing opportunities and other benefits. As a separate entity, it operates with its own Board of Directors, which is elected in conjunction with the MHCA annual meeting. 
 
Interested members are urged to contact Angela Westhoff, CEO, by September 12th to submit their names to the Nominating Committee for consideration. 
 
The Nominating Committee will present a slate of candidates for election by the membership at the Annual Meeting – to be scheduled for October. Additional details to follow. 
 
Staff contact: awesthoff@mehca.org

CMS provides additional details on staff ratios

On Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services revealed more details about how it will use nursing home site visits, data and other tools to formulate a minimum staffing standard, one that is meant to “build on” rather than replace previous studies.
 
Agency researchers said Monday that in addition to comments already collected about the potential new rule, they will use four main components in their ongoing work. The elements include a literature review of previous studies; a cost analysis; and site visits. There also will be a quantitative analysis to identify staffing levels associated with improved quality of care and resident safety, as well as trends in nursing home staffing from 2018-2021.

To read the full article in McKnights click here.

Staff Contact: 
https://dwatford@mehca.org
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