State Watch: Long-Term Care News From Around the Nation (6/25/2012)

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 North County Times (California)—Lab, Radiology Company Accused of Medicare Fraud Through Nursing Home Partnership

“Southern California’s largest clinical laboratory and radiology company serving nursing homes faces fraud allegations, adding to the growing number of False Claims Act lawsuits filed against the health care industry nationwide,” reports the North County Times. “According to court documents, Burbank-based Diagnostic Labs, which offers medical lab tests and radiology services, provided deep discounts to skilled nursing facilities in exchange for business that can be charged to taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medi-Cal. “This is an illegal kickback scheme, no more legal than if Diagnostic Labs, rather than providing below-cost discounts, had instead simply handed the SNFs (skilled nursing facilities) an envelope of cash,” the lawsuit alleges.” Read more


From the Hartford Courant (Connecticut)—HealthBridge Imposes Concessions on Nursing Home Union Workers

“HealthBridge has unilaterally imposed the concessions it has been demanding from union workers at five nursing homes it owns in Connecticut, a change that will end the pension for workers and require anywhere from $765 to $7,644 in health premiums from employees, depending on who’s covered, at what level, and the worker’s full-time or part-time status,” reports the Hartford Courant. “New Jersey-based HealthBridge has been locked in a 17-month contract dispute with District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union at six unionized nursing homes the company owns in Connecticut. HealthBridge is closing one of the homes, in Wethersfield.” Read more

From WDEL (Delaware)—Nursing Home Worker Background Check Bill Clears Senate


“A bill to allow nursing homes and home healthcare agencies to make quicker hiring decisions passed the state Senate Tuesday. Members voted 17 to 3 in favor of the measure establishing a centralized hub for required criminal and professional background checks,” reports WDEL. “Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry’s measure would require current employees not covered by background check requirements to be fingerprinted, and to approve reporting any offenses disqualifying them from their jobs to their bosses.” Read more

From (Texas)—Tort Reform Was Death Knell for Lawsuits Against Nursing Homes

“[S]ince tort reform passed in Texas a few years ago, attorney Marynell Maloney said lawsuits against nursing homes are few and far between,” reports “She said nursing homes do not have to carry insurance and there is a cap on damages that discourages lawyers from taking cases. “If there were bad lawsuits before, now there’s really bad care with no remedy for a lot of injured people,” Maloney said.” Read more

From the State of Rhode Island general assembly (Rhode Island)—Governor signs nursing home reimbursement reform bills

“Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee signed a law which will provide a foundation for a new reimbursement system for nursing homes and outline the parameters for the system to benefit the state’s elderly and disabled populations.Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) submitted the legislation (2012-S 2720A), 2012-H 7580A) to ensure quality care and adequate staffing at all long-term care facilities – including nonprofit and for-profit facilities – as the state adopts its new reimbursement methodology.”

From (Connecticut) Courtney, Prague to unveil long-term care bill 

“U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and Connecticut state Sen. Edith Prague, an advocate for the elderly, are unveiling proposed federal legislation that’s supposed to help families pay for long-term care insurance….Under Courtney’s bill, a tax deduction would be created for a percentage of eligible long-term care insurance premiums. The proposal also creates consumer protections for families who purchase the policies.”