State Watch: Long-Term Care News from Around the Nation (6/18/2012)

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 Kansas City Business Journal—ACA Grants Missouri $101 Million to Bolster Non-Institutional Care

“Missouri expects to get $100.9 million through the federal health reform law to help seniors and people with disabilities stay in their communities rather than move to care facilities,” reports the Business Journal. “ACA gives states more money by boosting federal Medicaid matching rates for those services if the state commits to increasing them. The total pot is $3 billion, made available through the ACA’s Balancing Incentive Program.” Read more

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From Boston.com (Massachusetts)—Bill Seeking Memory Care Standards Advances

“A proposal to create minimum standards for Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Massachusetts nursing homes is one step closer to becoming law. The state Senate Tuesday unanimously passed legislation that would require the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which regulates nursing homes, to establish minimum standards for facilities with dementia care units,” reports Boston.com. “The House approved the proposal last month. The bill must return to the House and Senate for routine enactment before being sent to the governor.” Read more

From the Sentinel-Standard (Michigan)—Upcoming Tax Rate Renewal Could Contribute Toward Senior At-Home Care

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“A proposed Ionia County senior citizen millage renewal on the primary election ballot Aug. 7 would ensure funding for the services that would provide a lifeline and peace of mind for those who want to avoid nursing home care for as long as they can. “People do not want to spend their declining years in a nursing home if they can stay in their own home or community, with help,” said Judy Kalmanek, chairperson for the millage committee, which is working to inform the public on the proposed millage and answer questions about it,” reports the Sentinel Standard. “The proposed millage rate on the ballot will increase from its current .375 to .5 mills to fund older adult services in the county. The increase also will bring the rate in line with other such millages across the state.” Read more

From NewsChannel10 (Texas)—Nursing Homes are Struggling After State and Federal Cuts

“Nursing homes are struggling after major budget cuts affect Medicare and Medicaid, some are even shutting their doors. Those cuts are causing a strain for facilities that take care of our elderly,” reports Texas’s News Channel 10. “A survey done by the Texas Health Care Association, shows many Texas nursing homes have had to make changes to their staff’s benefits, lay people off, and in some cases even shut their doors.” Watch the video

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(New York)—More Than $300 Million in N.Y. Grants Slated for Hospitals, Nursing Homes

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $43.2 million in grants to four hospitals and nursing homes in Long Island, continuing efforts to transform the state’s health care system to improve patient care, reduce costs, and ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality treatment. The grants are made available through New York State’s Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law (HEAL NY). Statewide, the $301.1 million in HEAL NY grants will help 40 hospitals and nursing homes across the state improve primary and community-based care, eliminate excess bed capacity, and reduce over-reliance on inpatient care in hospitals and nursing homes.” Read more

From Boston.com—No Federal Grant for Mass. Project to Reduce Antipsychotic Drug Use in Nursing Homes

“Massachusetts nursing homes, which recently pledged to lower their rate of antipsychotic use by 15 percent this year, found out Friday that they will not be receiving a coveted federal grant that would have helped fund the initiative to drive down inappropriate use of the powerful sedatives. Competition for the awards was stiff. Federal officials said they received 3,000 applications nationwide, and fewer than 4 percent were chosen,” reports Boston.com. “The effort to reduce use of antipsychotics was among those not selected. A pilot program was launched last year in 11 nursing homes, but researchers and the state’s nursing home trade association, Massachusetts Senior Care, had hoped to expand the initiative to more of the state’s 426 facilities.” Read more

From Fox Illinois—Quinn OK’s Medicaid Changes, Nursing Homes Face 2.7% Reimbursement Cuts

“Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday signed off on a cigarette tax hike and a series of changes to the state’s ailing Medicaid system to help Illinois save billions of dollars,” reports Fox Illinois. “Rates to some provider groups will be cut by 2.7 percent, except for doctors, dentists, clinics, safety-net hospitals and critical-access rural hospitals. Non-exempt hospital’s rates will be cut by 3.5 percent. Nursing home cuts average 2.7 percent.” Read more