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 Colorado Public Radio—Hospitals Need Networks to Prevent Readmissions

“A paradox of American health care is that hospitals are sometimes rewarded for doing things badly. Patients who are discharged, for example, shouldn’t have to come right back because their conditions get worse when they go home. But if they do come back, hospitals benefit, because they can fill an empty bed and bill for more care,” reports Colorado Public Radio in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR. “The federal government says, in fact, that Medicare pays $17.4 billion a year for unnecessary return visits. The 2010 health care law is trying to fix that, and this week Medicare started docking payments to hospitals that have too many repeat customers. The federal government wants many hospitals to adopt a model like Denver Health, which doesn’t readmit many patients. Dr. Thomas MacKenzie, the chief of quality at Denver Health, says a big reason is because the hospital is able to help patients get follow-up care once they leave.” Read more


From the (Pa.)—Potential Nursing Home Closure Causes Uncertainty

Vincentian Collaborative System, which runs seven area nursing facilities, stopped accepting new patients at Regency in March and closed the first-floor skilled rehabilitation unit,” reports the Post-Gazette. “Robin Weber, director of communications for Vincentian, said the company is in the process of determining the needs of all its facilities. “It is a very challenging health care environment right now. We are trying to look systemwide and taking a comprehensive approach,” she said. “We are committed to making the best decisions and we are committed to taking the time to do so. … The care of our residents is our top priority.” Ms. Pefferman said work on updating the sprinkler system, required by law to be done by July 2013, has stopped, and the workmen were sent to other Vincentian facilities. A hiring freeze was implemented, then six union employees and some managers were laid off, she added.” Read more

From—Nursing Home Workers Win 2-Year Union Battle


“It’s been two years since workers at a Route 22 nursing home voted to form a union. It’s been a battle ever since. Within months of the September 2010 vote at Somerset Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, four workers were fired, a fifth was pushed out in a resignation and five more lost work hours in what the workers and the Service Employees International Union called retaliation for supporting the union,” reports “The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that investigates unfair labor practices and conducts union elections, agreed with the workers, as did Administrative Law Judge Steven Davis, who ordered the company last November to rehire the workers and compensate them for lost wages. The latest victory for the workers is the final decision the NLRB issued Sept. 26 affirming the judge’s ruling from a year earlier.” Read more

From (Tex.)—State May Move Elderly Convicts to Nursing Homes to Save Money

“With the Legislature certain to face a tight state budget when it convenes next January, state officials confirmed Tuesday they are exploring a plan that could parole many of the most infirm, bed-ridden offenders into secure nursing homes where the offenders could be kept track of by ankle monitoring bracelets,” reports “State records reveal that the 10 sickest convicts alone cost taxpayers more than $1.9 million during 2011, a figure that prison doctors say is growing every year as Texas’ prison population gets older and more infirm. In all, records show that convicts over age 55 now make up 8 percent of Texas’ prison population, but account for 30 percent of its medical costs. Taking into account the cost of security, McGiverin estimated that if the state released on parole its terminally ill and infirm convicts, the savings could reach $76 million over two years.” Read more

From the Hudson Star-Observer (Wisc.)—County Board Won’t Close Nursing Home, Allows New Construction

“The St. Croix County Board of Supervisors rejected a move to close its nursing home facility in New Richmond and passed a resolution to build a new one in a marathon meeting Tuesday. The option to build a new facility passed on a 10-8 vote. Supervisor Buck Malick had left to attend a prior engagement,” reports the Hudson Star Observer. “Supervisor Fred Horne proposed to restructure the order of proposals to place closing or selling the old facility at the top of the list for consideration. Supervisor Hawksford said the current nursing home was “projected to cost the county over 22 million in next 10 years.” Supervisor Horne said, “Nursing home employees are willing to work with us, why don’t we continue to work with them?” in support of the facility.” Read more

From the N.J. Senate—State Senate Passes CCRC Resident Bill of Rights

“The Senate passed today a “Bill of Rights for Continuing Care Retirement Community Residents in Independent Living,” sponsored by Senators Robert Singer and Jennifer Beck,” the New Jersey Senate announced. “The Senators’ S-2052Sca to establish and clarify basic rights for retirement community residents under continuing care was unanimously approved on Sept. 20 by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “This bill of rights provides reasonable powers, privacies and courtesies to elderly, and in some cases vulnerable and care-dependent, residents in CCRCs,” said Singer, R-Monmouth, Ocean.

The bill includes the following rights:

  • Permits residents to see their own medical records, participate in their own medical decisions, refuse treatments and determine their life support choices in advance;
  • Affords each resident the ability to leave and return to the facility at will, to host guests for reasonable amounts of time, and to refuse to perform services for the facility without coercion;
  • Requires facilities to give notice before changing services and fees;
  • Requires facilities to maintain and make available records of resident complaints;
  • Limits the circumstances under which a resident must leave a unit;
  • Allows residents to cancel their continuing care agreements within 30 days.”

From the Daily Press (Va.)—Reimbursement System Puts Strain on ALF Operators

“Some assisted living facility operators serving patients are being financially stretched by state policies used to reimburse administrators for serving poor populations, according to a Peninsula healthcare professional. “The problems… [in certain] facilities may be partially a product of Virginia’s system of reimbursing assisted living facility operators. “I think there is truly an issue of public policy,” said Chuck Hall, Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board executive director,” reports the Daily Press. “The Virginia Department of Social Services provides auxiliary grants to assisted living facility operators to help offset the cost of providing services to low-income residents with mental health disabilities. Part of the problem is subsidizing assisted living facilities to house mentally disabled patients who have no financial means themselves, Hall said. The cost of caring for that population has increased in recent years while the amount of that auxiliary grant subsidy has remained the same, he said.” Read more