As states struggle to contain cases and deaths from COVID-19, nursing homes and other senior care facilities remain epicenters of outbreaks and fatalities. Yet a rule proposed last year by the Trump Administration would allow facilities to cut back on infection prevention measures, according to recent reports in The New York Times and USA Today.
It seems counterintuitive, but CMS still supports this yet-to-be-finalized proposal. Currently, facilities must employ infection prevention specialists at least part time; they receive specialized training to ensure safety protocols are followed. The rule change would allow nursing homes to hire consultants, who are only required to “spend sufficient time” at the facility. CMS says this would reduce regulatory burden while still ensuring quality care. Continue reading
When Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator, announced June 4 that she and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were unveiling COVID-19 data for all the nation’s nursing homes that get federal payment, I thought, “Wow!”
These days, how states are reporting their nursing home COVID cases is varied and random. So this new “unprecedented” federal dataset, “constitutes the backbone of a national COVID-19 virus surveillance system,” Verma said. Continue reading
CMS has finally posted a database of reported deaths by facility for approximately 30,000 nursing homes. The data is updated weekly and provides confirmation of the awful toll this disease is taking on our most vulnerable population. As of June 1, more than 40,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19. And that number is most certainly an undercount.
Information is still disjointed, in part because some states include group homes in their reports to CMS, and others only provide data for institutional long term care settings. Assisted living facilities are not part of the dataset since they’re not federally regulated. But any way you look at it, the numbers are staggering. Continue reading
Medicare Advantage plans may not be all they’re cracked up to be and often mislead consumers, according to a new MedPage Today story by reporter Cheryl Clark, who also is AHCJ’s new patient safety core topic leader. As Clark puts it, “getting out is a lot harder than getting in.”
Anyone turning 65 has several months on either side of their birthday to choose to enroll in traditional Medicare, the government-run health insurance for older adults and certain people under 65 with disabilities. Medicare includes Parts A (hospitalization), B (physician services) and an optional Part D (prescription drug plan). As of November, Medicare covered nearly 39 million people. Continue reading
Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, invited reporters to the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters on Thursday to take questions on the record, the latest open press meeting in a continued shift since AHCJ began calling for better access to the official.
About 25 reporters were present at the “pen and pad,” an informal type of press conference, which was open to all who were able to attend and permitted recording and laptops. Continue reading