State Watch: Long-Term Care News from Around the Nation (9/4/2012)

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 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—Mass. Becomes First State to Join Dual Eligibles Care Demo 

“Massachusetts will become the first State to partner with CMS in the Financial Alignment Demonstration (the Demonstration) to test a new model for providing Medicare-Medicaid enrollees with a more coordinated, person-centered care experience,” CMS announced on Aug. 23. “Massachusetts is the first State to enter a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CMS to participate in the Demonstration and test the capitated Financial Alignment model.  The Commonwealth and CMS will contract with Integrated Care Organizations (ICOs) that will oversee and be accountable for the delivery of covered Medicare, Medicaid, and expanded services for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees ages 21-64 in the Commonwealth.  As a result, 110,000 Medicare-Medicaid enrollees in Massachusetts will have an opportunity to choose better, more coordinated care.” Read more

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From the San Francisco Chronicle—Ohio Takes Next Step to Better Coordinate Medical Care for Seniors

Ohio is one step closer to implementing changes aimed at better coordinating medical care for some of the state’s sickest and most expensive patients.
Gov. John Kasich’s administration wants to streamline the way health care is delivered to Ohioans enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.”The state wants to better link the two programs so that the beneficiaries only have to work with a single entity to receive the services. Individuals would get a care manager to help them with medical decisions and to live independently if they are still at home. “If they are 86 years old, living at home and cannot get out, then how is that different than being institutionalized?” McCarthy said. “So just living at home isn’t the important part, you need to have those social interactions and be connected to the community. And that’s a part of what we’re trying to do with this project.” Ohio is hoping to become the second state after Massachusetts to take part in a dual-eligible project with the federal government, McCarthy said.” Read more

From the San Francisco Chronicle—N.C., Feds Reach Agreement on Adult Care Homes

“The state of North Carolina and the federal government signed an agreement Thursday that could move thousands of residents in adult care homes with serious mental illness into community housing and avoids potential costly litigation,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. “The agreement signed by state Health and Human Services acting Secretary Al Delia and federal attorneys says by mid-2020 the state will provide affordable housing for 3,000 slots for people who otherwise would be living in adult care homes or mental hospitals. At least 100 slots will be available by next July, the agreement said. No one will be forced to move from an adult care home to the community, although the agreement requires proof residents are making informed choices.” Read more

From TheTownTalk.com—2,500 Deficiencies Reported at Louisiana Nursing Homes in 18 Months

“In the past 18 months, Medicare inspectors have found 2,594 examples of substandard care — some similar to those causing Chambers’ death — at nursing homes across the state, according to U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services inspection reports. The data recently was compiled and made available by the independent non-profit media group ProPublica,” reports TheTownTalk.com.”The deficiencies range from seemingly minor infractions, such as a potted plant placed in a possibly hazardous location, to major violations, such as beatings of patients, hiring workers with violent criminal backgrounds or failing to protect residents from fellow patients with aggressive behavior. In an email, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital officials said statewide nursing homes are committed to quality care. “We follow national best practices and we are confident that we have all procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of Louisiana’s nursing home residents,” the department said.” Read more

From The Times-Picayune (La.)—Nursing Homes Better Prepared for Hurricane Isaac Than Previous Storms

“Across Louisiana, dozens of hospital patients, nursing home residents and people with special medical needs were moved to safer ground before Hurricane Isaac’s Gulf Coast landfall. At a special medical shelter at the Louisiana State University Field House in Baton Rouge, 71 people had taken shelter by Tuesday morning, including 48 patients and 23 caregivers,” reports The Times-Picayune. “The Field House has a capacity of 300. At least eight nursing homes and four hospitals in southeast and south central Louisiana had also evacuated, including roughly 80 patients from Bayside Healthcare Center nursing home in Gretna who were transported after midnight in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The days leading up to the storm’s arrival highlighted improvements in medical preparedness since Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav. “So many things are so different this time than last time,” DeSalvo said.” Read more

From the Charlotte Observer (N.C.)—More Retirees Heading to Charlotte Area

In recent months, Marian Ingram, a real estate agent in Keller Williams’ Ballantyne office, has watched as more seniors from around the country look for new homes here. Ingram specializes in working with people 55 and over,” reports the Charlotte Observer. “Many are still choosing the Charlotte area to be near children and grandchildren who already live here. Retirement industry professionals refer to these seniors as “trailers,” because they’re following their children. Aging newcomers will find a variety of senior housing in the Charlotte area. They range from developments that cater to active seniors to continuing care retirement communities equipped with assisted living and nursing facilities.” Read more