National Long-Term Care News Bites: Community Sued for Disability Discrimination

Here’s a collection of news bites pertaining to the senior housing and long-term care industries, gathered from around the nation. Click the links to read the full article. 

From LehighValleyLive.com—Pa. Senior Living Center Sued for Disability Discrimination

“A Hanover Township, Northampton County, independent senior community discriminated against disabled applicants, according to a federal lawsuit filed by a former employee who says she was fired for objecting to the policy,” reports Lehigh Valley Live. “Shelly Salak Newell, the former director of marketing for Traditions of Hanover, claimed in a lawsuit filed today that the independent living community installed new criteria that made it more difficult for disabled seniors to be accepted as tenants. The new standards had employees screen applicants and discourage those with physical and mental impairments from applying to the independent community, the suit says.” Read more

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From the Department of Health and Human Services—Hurricane Prompts HHS Secretary to Declare Public Health Emergency for N.Y.

“The public health emergency is declared under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act and is necessary so that HHS may waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP requirements under section 1135 of the Social Security Act in an area where there has been a declaration of an emergency or disaster under the Stafford Act. The state can submit waiver requests through Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Regional Office.

Under section 1135, HHS may permit affected health care facilities in New York to adjust certain operating procedures temporarily and continue to be reimbursed under Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. For example, a health care facility can quickly establish an emergency temporary location to provide health care services and be assured that it will be reimbursed for providing those services.”

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From NJ.Com—Social Studies Prompts Legislation Giving Funds to Aging in Place Initiatives 

“Unless they hit the lottery, many New Jerseyans won’t even come close to the life of luxury they once dreamed of. Some will be able to relocate to a modest place where there is more sun than snow, and some will move in with their children. But the vast majority of retired people will stay right where they are. “Aging in Place” that’s called and it is a phenomenon being studied by planners, developers, social workers, and health experts,” writes NJ.com. “To study, promote and improve NORCs, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D, Trenton) has introduced legislation to appropriate $250,000 for community groups or housing complexes where at least half the households are headed by someone 60 or older. Residents would be offered opportunities for socializing, recreation, and transportation, as well as help with shopping, cleaning and financial management. They’d have access to on-site doctors and nurses, too.” Read more

From The Wichita Eagle (Kansas)—Senior Care Providers Uncertain About Managed Care Medicaid Program

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“Warner Harrison, co-owner of LakePoint nursing and assisted living residences, thinks it’s anybody’s guess as to how nursing homes will be affected by the changes being made to the state’s Medicaid system, known as KanCare, but he’s trying to stay optimistic,” reports The Wichita Eagle. “The state is turning over the management of the Medicaid system to three companies, called managed care organizations. It plans to implement the system as of Jan. 1, 2013, pending federal approval. The governor’s office estimates the new program will save the state more than $1 billion over the next five years. The current program costs $2.9 billion per year to operate. Providers who receive Medicaid reimbursements—including nursing homes—say they don’t know how the new system will work.” Read more

From WFTV.com (Fla.)—State Closes Assisted Living Facility, Displacing Residents

“In two weeks an Orange County assisted living facility will be forced to shut its doors and the residents will have to find new places to live. As many as 80 elderly residents live at the AnnWay Assisted Living Facility in Orange County,” reports WFTV.com. “In a report state officials said the place is too unsafe to stay open. The forced closure comes after years of poor inspection reports. The Health Care Administration report says that medications weren’t handled properly, medicine cabinets weren’t locked and patients were even getting their own medicines… The facility is also being fined $5,700.” Read more

From the McCook Daily Gazette (Neb.)—Nursing Home Implementing Paperless Mandate

“Electronic charting has been mandated by the government to be in place at nursing homes by 2014. Pens and papers will be eased out, as Hillcrest Nursing Home begins to phase in electronic charting,” reports the McCook Daily Gazette. “When completely implemented, about 90 percent of charting will be done electronically, said Colinda Nappa, Hillcrest administrator. Nappa told the Board of Trustees at the regular meeting Tuesday that the majority of software needed for electronic charting has been purchased. Training staff members who are unfamiliar with computers will being soon, with “Phase I” of electronic charting beginning March 2013.” Read more

Massachusetts Governor Signs Bill to Improve LTC Insurance

On October 25, 2012, Governor Deval Patrick signed Senate Bill 2359, “An Act Establishing Standards for Long-Term Care Insurance,” which ensures the availability of long-term care insurance policies, protects long-term care applicants from unfair or deceptive sales or enrollment practices, and promotes flexibility and customization according to an individual’s long-term care needs. The legislation also establishes standards for long-term care insurance and facilitates better public understanding and comparison of long-term care insurance policies. 

“In Massachusetts we believe that health care is a public good and every individual deserves access to affordable, quality care,” said Governor Patrick. “This legislation will ensure that Massachusetts seniors receive the long-term care they need, when they need it. It facilitates families’ ability to understand their coverage and plan for long-term care, and ensures that residents enrolled in group policies issued outside the Commonwealth are covered even if the need for long-term care is not immediate.”

From Jacksonville.com (Fla.)—Nursing Home Industry Alarmed Over Proposed Medicaid Cuts

Medicaid rate cuts of $429 million are being floated as part of a budget-cutting exercise required by Gov. Rick Scott. More than 60 percent of that cut — $274 million — would be shouldered by nursing homes under the proposal presented this week by the Agency for Health Care Administration,” reports Jacksonville.com. “Nursing home industry officials say they know it’s early, but the level of the cut concerns them. “Two-thirds of my costs are people,” said Marty Goetz, CEO of River Garden Hebrew Home in Jacksonville. “If that level of cut happens, I will have to reduce staff, salaries or hours.” During the spring legislative session, lawmakers cut $38 million from nursing homes.” Read more

From Fox 25 (Okla.)—Convicted Criminals Become Employable by Nursing Homes

“A new law takes effect November first allowing convicted criminals of offenses such as assault, battery and first degree robbery to work in nursing homes. The law changes what crimes would be considered barriers for employment in the nursing home industry,” reports Fox 25. “If seven years have passed since the completion of sentence for assault, battery, indecent exposure, or robbery, a nursing home may consider that individual for employment. However, convictions for rape, child abuse, murder or kidnapping would still be considered unemployable offenses.” Read more