State Watch: Long-Term Care News from Around the Nation (7/2/2012)

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 Los Angeles Times—Calif. Patients Struggle to Transition to Managed Care System

“One year ago, California began moving certain Medi-Cal patients into a managed healthcare system with the goal of saving money while better coordinating treatment,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “But for some of these low-income seniors and disabled patients, the transition has been anything but smooth, forcing severely ill patients to give up their doctors, delay treatment and travel long distances for specialty care.” Read more

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From TheDay.com (Connecticut)—Proposed Legislation Meant to Help Pay for Long-Term Care Insurance

“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,” reports TheDay.com. “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.” Read more

[Press Release] Rhode Island: New Reimbursement System for State’s Nursing Homes

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“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.

As required in the state budget enacted last June, the methodology proposed in the winter shifted from a “cost model” to a “price model.” This means that rather than reimbursing facilities based on what their costs of operating are, up to a certain limit, the state would provide a much more uniform payment to all nursing homes.” Read more

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From the Conway Daily Sun (New Hampshire)—County Nursing Home Gets Online Data Backup 

“County commissioners last week finally agreed to use an online data backup system for the nursing home’s financial and medical information. The decision came a week after they learned the original data backup system had been on the fritz since the end of May,” reports the Conway Daily Sun. “The Barracuda Networks online backup system that commissioners chose will back up nursing home data in two secure off-site locations.” Read more

From the Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia)—$90 Million Nursing Home Verdict a ‘Deafening Amount’

“Defense attorneys in a $90 million nursing home negligence case asked a circuit judge to grant a new trial or lower the award that they called excessive and unfair. “This is a deafening amount,” [Ben] Bailey [who is representing ManorCare and Heartland Nursing Home in the lawsuit] said,” reports the Charleston Daily Mail. ” Bailey said plaintiffs attorneys overstated the corporation’s financial information, and the jury based a decision on a $125 million insurance policy. Bailey said the high award, if upheld, would seriously harm Heartland of Charleston, which he said has an income of about $250,000 annually, and other ManorCare nursing homes in West Virginia.” Read more

From the Pittsburg Post-Gazette—Less Access for Pa. Seniors to Get Post-Hospital Home Care, Not Nursing Home Care

“A new State Plan on Aging drafted by the Corbett administration lists among its top goals making it easier for older adults to return home after a hospital discharge instead of facing an unwanted nursing home stay,” reports the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. “It’s a priority that the head of a local aging agency says will be harder to meet, starting today, because the state Department of Public Welfare has just ended a program that served that purpose. The expedited access to home services such as personal care aide has saved the commonwealth a large amount by avoiding more expensive nursing home reimbursements, Ms. Grenfell said.” Read more

From the Norwich Bulletin (Connecticut)—State to Allow Sickest Prison Inmates Into Special Nursing Home

“Connecticut’s sickest state prison inmates will be released and moved to a special nursing home early next year in an effort that state officials say will save millions of dollars in health care costs,” reports the Norwich Bulletin. “As part of wide-ranging state budget legislation signed into law in June, state lawmakers gave Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone the discretion to release ailing inmates from custody under certain circumstances.” Read more