State Watch: Long-Term Care News from Around the Nation (9/17/12)

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 CCHGroup.Com—Ill. CCRC Not Exempt from Property Taxes

“Except for the chapel on the property, property used by a religious order as a continuing care retirement community (community) was not exempt from Illinois property tax under either a religious use theory or a charitable use theory. A ruling denying the exemption was upheld,” writes CCH. “The community did not qualify for the religious use exemption because, except for the chapel, the primary use of the community was for upscale senior housing and care with an enhanced lifestyle. While there was a religious component to the community, advertisements and enticements for living at the community made it clear that advancing religion was not the community’s primary purpose.”

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From the Kennebec Journal—Maine Prisoners Provide Hospice Services to Fellow Aging Inmates

“The Maine Hospice Council and Center for End of Life Care has been involved at the Maine State Prison for 12 years as part of its mission to reach out to underserved populations. It started with classes about end-of-life issues and then trained staff members,” reports the Kennebec Journal. “In the past three years, the council has been training volunteers drawn from the prison population and has graduated two classes with 14 volunteers. They supplement the infirmary staff and sit with men who are dying, providing round-the-clock attention, sometimes just sitting and listening, Powell said. …The Department of Corrections doesn’t track changes in the average age of prisoners, but Warden Patricia Barnhart estimates it is equivalent to the national rate of growth. An aging prison population means more inmates face dying in prison.” Read more

From PennLive.com—Care Choices Don’t Exist for All Pa. Seniors (editorial)

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“Today, more families are turning to home and community-based services to ensure their loved ones remain independent for as long as possible, allowing them to stay in their home or apartment or a homelike setting and around their families,” says an editorial published on PennLive.com. “However, our government fails to provide proper support for low-income persons who need these crucial senior services. That’s unfortunate because home and community-based services provides a wide variety of opportunities to protect the quality of life seniors expect to enjoy. The problem is that choice doesn’t exist for all Pennsylvania seniors. In most areas, our senior care provider community has a multitude of options for families to consider if they are paying privately. However, low-income seniors relying on state funded services face a different reality.” Read more

From NorthportPatch (N.Y.)—Another County-Run Nursing Home Privatizing, Sells for $23 Million

“After years of debate, it looks like Suffolk County is finally going to get the John .J Foley Skilled Nursing Center in Yaphank off its books after the County Legislature on Thursday approved the $23 million sale to a private nursing home operator. Legislators voted 10-7 to sell Foley, the county’s only government-run nursing home,” writes the local Patch. “Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has said the sale to Sam and Israel Sherman will trim the county’s $250 million deficit by more than $30 million when factoring in the nursing home’s $10 million annual loss with the sale price. The Sherman’s run 13 nursing homes in the state.” Read more

From CBSDetroit (Mich.)—Survey Says: UM’s Care Coordination for Dual Eligibles Works

“In a nationwide program that aimed to provide better care at a lower cost for Medicare participants, the University of Michigan made the most progress in reducing costs and improved the quality of care patients received,” reports the local CBS affiliate. “Those findings come from a new independent analysis published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice…[which] finds that UM was able to decrease annual spending by $2,499 for each patient who had both Medicare and Medicaid coverage. These “dual eligible” patients, as they are called, tend to have medical costs that are higher than people who use Medicare alone — as a group, they account for 31 percent of all Medicare spending and 39 percent of all Medicaid spending.” Read more

Saving Dollars While Improving Care: UM Did Both In Medicare Project