State Watch: Long-Term Care News from Around the Nation

As assisted living regulations evolve and tighten, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements fluctuate, and healthcare reform begins to take effect, many states are facing their own challenges as they continue to develop, operate, and implement new rules and programs. Here is a collection of long-term care related stories from across the nation.

From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette—Pennsylvania Getting Up to Speed on Assisted Living Care

“Timothy W. Coughlin is amused that Pennsylvania is recognizing “assisted living” as a new category of long-term care, considering his company and others believe they’ve been offering it since late last century,” reports the Post-Gazette. “On the other hand, he welcomes new state regulations and a plan for government funding that officially place assisted living as a new category between the long-established personal care home and nursing home industries, starting in 2011. Now that it’s an official designation, the door is open for the state’s 1,400 personal care homes to apply for assisted-living status, which carries higher standards in terms of larger living space, private bathrooms, kitchen appliances, resident independence and other aspects.” Read more

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(For past reporting on this topic from the Post-Gazette, click here.)

From The Roanoke Times—Former Nursing Home Official Pleads Guilty to Kickbacks

“A federal investigation of bribery and bid-rigging at Medical Facilities of America culminated Wednesday with guilty pleas by the official at the center of the scheme,” reports The Roanoke Times. “John D. Henderson, the former director of maintenance and renovations for the Roanoke-based nursing home company, was charged with two counts each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax evasion. The charges, made public during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, portray Henderson as the lone Medical Facilities of America official involved in a scheme that cost the company more than $500,000.” Read more

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From Grand Forks Herald—Massive Spike in Long-Term Care Costs Hits Minnesota Seniors

“Premiums are soaring by 20 to 90 percent for thousands of Minnesotans who carry long-term care insurance, and many older people are struggling to figure out what to do,” reports Grand Forks Herald. “It could dampen a new three-year effort by state agencies to convince more people to finance their own long-term care in old age. About 7 percent of nursing home residents have long-term care insurance. But about two-thirds are covered by Medicaid, which spends $3.5 billion a year on long-term care in Minnesota and whose rising costs present growing budget problems for the state.” Read more

From StLToday.com—Low Occupancy Closes Down Local Senior Care Facility

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“The Charless Home, which opened in 1853 as the “Home of the Friendless,” will soon be the home of no one. Bethesda Health Group, which bought the facility in 2006, said Monday it will close the home by June 30,” reports StLToday.com. “Low occupancy and financial losses are the culprits, said Ken Bass, Bethesda’s senior vice president of senior living. Bethesda, which bought the home for an undisclosed price, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade and subsidize its operation, Bass said.” Read more

From The Associated Press—Ohio Cities Not Prepared for Baby Boomer Flood; Village Networks Forming

“A little more than a decade ago, the 60-or-older population hadn’t topped 25 percent in a single Ohio county. But… [j]ust eight years from now, researchers say, a quarter of all residents in half of the state’s 88 counties will be 60 or older. In some areas, the tally will be closer to one in three,” reports The Associated Press. “Beset by immediate concerns about tight budgets in a bad economy, few have started to think long-term about how to best plan for the aging baby-boom population as it moves out of the workforce and into retirement.” Read more

From the Hartford Courant—Connecticut Nursing Home Can’t Close, but it Can Cut 74 Jobs

“Nearly 50 nurse’s aides, cafeteria workers and housekeepers were permanently laid off from the Wethersfield Health Care Center Sunday, the owner of the nursing home announced, with 44 more getting significant reductions in work hours,” reports the Hartford Courant. “The state Department of Social Services denied HealthBridge’s request to close Wethersfield Health Care Center this month, citing the company’s refusal to allow the state to examine its books for more than four hours. In November’s public hearing connected to the closure request, HealthBridge said it would lose $2 million in 2011, but it won’t say now how much it did lose.” Read more