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

As assisted living regulations evolve, 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 news bites from across the nation.

From The Columbus Dispatch—Ohio Nursing Home Citations Jump After Slashed Reimbursements

“During the state’s past fiscal year, Ohio’s nursing homes were cited nearly twice as often as in the previous year for putting patients at serious risk of harm,” reports The Columbus Dispatch. “The jump in “immediate jeopardy” citations in the 2011-12 fiscal year coincides with cuts in the facilities’ Medicaid payments in July 2011 and a Medicare rate cut a few months later. But officials say it’s too soon to say whether the smaller government payments are undermining the quality of nursing-home care.” Read more

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From the Register Guard—Task Force Proposes Mandatory Training for Caregivers of Dementia Patients

“To help Oregonians prepare for that increase [in the number of people who will have Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases], a statewide task force unveiled a proposal Monday that focuses on caregivers, state government and the improving quality of care. The most salient element of the project’s goals is to require all caregivers, including family, to get training on dementia and the responsibilities of representing someone with the condition. People in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s disease often require in-­patient psychiatric treatment and round-the-clock care in a secure setting,” reports the Associated Press for the Register Guard. “The proposed solution: By January 2015, Oregon will make training mandatory for anyone appointed to a guardianship position within 90 days of their appointment. The plan does not include an enforcement mechanism for ensuring the guardians get trained.” Read more

View Oregon’s State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias in Oregon

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From NPR (New York)—Public Nursing Homes Face Potential Crisis

“County run nursing homes across the state face growing crises as county governments, strapped for cash, consider ending their historical role as providers of inpatient care to the elderly,” reports the local NPR affiliate WXXI News. [Steven] Acquario [the executive director of the New York Association of Counties] says the 2% property tax cap approved last year by Governor Cuomo and the legislature is contributing to counties’ fiscal squeeze. Counties rely on property taxes for much of their revenue to provide services. He says costs for pensions and health care, including the pensions of the workers at the nursing homes, and counties believe there are too many unfunded mandates that add to their cash crunch. Acquario says he doesn’t believe that private nursing homes can pick up the slack. He says most of the county nursing home residents are on Medicaid, which many private facilities are reluctant to accept.” Read more

From the Chicago Tribune (Illinois)—State’s Support Living Program a “Huge Safety Net”

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“Supportive living and assisted living facilities share similarities by combining apartment-style housing with personal care and services. About 10,000 Illinois residents live in the state’s 136 supportive living buildings,” writes the Chicago Tribune. “Low-income seniors often end up in costly nursing homes even though they don’t need the skilled nursing services. The guiding philosophy behind supportive housing is to provide a cost-effective setting for seniors who need help with daily routines and can’t afford assisted living, but who don’t require nursing care. “The program is a huge safety net,” said Wayne Smallwood, who was instrumental in creating the original program and now heads the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition, a trade group based in Springfield that represents supportive living facilities.” Read more

From LeadingAge—State Chapter Merges with Washington Adult Day Services Association

“LeadingAge Washington and the Washington Adult Say Services Association (WADSA) are merging,” reports the nonprofit senior living provider organization. “The merger builds upon LeadingAge’s presence and voice in Olympia as they advocate for funding to sustain long-term care services and support for persons with disabilities and chronic care needs, according to Chief Executive Officer Deb Murphy of LeadingAge Washington. Sara Myers, former executive director of WADSA, notes that LeadingAge Washington has had a stronger presence in the post-acute care world. She will join the LeadingAge Washington staff as the new director of adult day services.” Read more

From Long-Term Living Magazine—California Pioneering New LTC Model for Aging Prison Inmates

“Think of prisons and what comes to mind? Multistoried reinforced edifices surrounded by high, electrified fences and other natural protections, and guard towers that separate inmates from society. However, when inmates grow old or develop chronic diseases, these buildings, many without elevators, do not accommodate aging in place. Consequently, the sick and infirm (including those inmates with mental issues) take up beds in prison infirmaries,” writes Long-Term Living.

“To relieve this stress on the overcrowded prison system in California, the state is currently building a long-term care facility to house nearly 1,700 inmates. The California Health Care Facility—Stockton is designed as a single-story building. While secure and clustered around a control center, resident “cells” provide natural light that improves the quality of life. Walls are wide enough to accommodate monitoring technologies. Also, the property will have electric fences installed to provide additional security.” Read more

From the Sun Sentinel—Florida Puts More Money into Community Care for the Elderly

“Finally, there has been a state funding increase for Florida’s Community Care for the Elderly, one of the first programs in the country focused on keeping seniors at home and out of more expensive nursing facilities,” reports the Sun Sentinel. “The extra $1 million approved this last legislative session, which brings the total to $41.5 million, is the first raise Community Care has received in 10 years. But South Florida agencies serving seniors say it won’t go far in whittling down the more than 26,000 people on the waiting list statewide as of July 25. Community Care provides personal care, delivered meals and other assistance for disabled or frail elders age 60 or older living at home. The average client is 81 years old with multiple serious medical conditions. About half have lost their spouses, and one-third have dementia.” Read more

From the Morning Sentinel—One Out of Five Maine Nursing Facilities Rated Below Average

“About one-fifth of all nursing homes in Maine have below-average overall ratings in a federal comparison of nursing homes nationwide. Nearly 40 percent of the 108 nursing and rehabilitation centers across the state have below-average health inspection ratings, according to Nursing Home Compare at Medicare.gov,” reports the Morning Sentinel. “Compared with nursing homes across the United States, nursing homes in Maine have 35 percent fewer deficiencies cited during inspections, according to the Nursing Home Compare website. The average number of problems cited at Maine nursing homes is 4.8 per inspection, compared with 7.4 nationally. As a result, nearly 60 percent of Maine’s nursing homes have above-average overall ratings and 20 percent have average overall ratings.” Read more…