National Long-Term Care News Bites: Healthcare Reform’s Impact on Senior Care Providers

Here’s a collection of news bites pertaining to the senior housing and long-term care industries, gathered from around the nation. Many of the articles are state-specific, but could eventually have national implications or influence senior care trends. Click the links to access the full article. 

From Becker’s Hospital Review—Health Care Reform’s Impact on Senior Care Providers

“Impending reimbursement cuts will threaten profitability as most of the revenues from skilled nursing and assisted living facilities are from Medicare and Medicaid. To reduce costs, the new law also encourages patients to receive home care services, which are less expensive than receiving skilled nursing or assisted living care. To remain profitable, facilities may have to raise prices for private pay patients to offset the losses from government reimbursements,” reports Becker’s Hospital Review.

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“General recommendations for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities to prepare themselves financially for healthcare reform include changing a facility’s business model to diversify revenue streams, bundling services and contracting with larger providers. However, to succeed at accountable care, facilities will need to successfully manage high acuity care at a lower cost and reduce hospitalizations.” Read more… 

From Kaiser Health News (Calif.)—Will Managed Care Experiment Actually Save Money, Improve Quality?

“The California experiment, now in its second year, has national significance. Federal officials have begun to roll out a similar, but larger effort required by the Affordable Care Act. That program will move up to 2 million of the nation’s sickest and most expensive patients into managed care. Twenty-five states have applied to be part of the managed care experiment for so-called “dual-eligibles,” people  who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. All dual-eligibles are poor, two-thirds of them are over 65, and many of them suffer from multiple chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease,” reports Kaiser Health News. “Those are sound principles, but the size of the experiment worries many. “They are too big to fail,” says Robert Berenson, a former vice chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Board.” Read more

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From Vindy.com—Deep Funding Cuts Strain Ohio Nursing Homes

“House Bill 153 was implemented in July 2011, the beginning of the state fiscal year. It rebalanced funding for long-term care by cutting Medicaid rates paid to nursing homes by about 6 percent. It was one of the largest budget cuts in recent years,” reports Vindy.com. “Then in October 2011, Medicare cut funding by an average of 11 percent nationally, claiming it had underestimated the cost of changes made in skilled nursing facilities the year before. Some Ohio facilities faced cuts of up to 12 percent. These two major cuts within six months proved challenging for many facilities, said Peter Van Runkle, executive director for the Ohio Health Care Association, which represents 750 long-term and special care facilities in Ohio.” Read more

From The Washington Post—AARP Doesn’t Want Medicare Changes Because AARP Would Lose Money

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“AARP, the highly influential lobby for older Americans, is fiercely opposing any Medicare or Social Security cuts and emphasizes that it is fighting for the good of its members. But the proposals for changing Medicare also could affect AARP’s bottom line,” reports The Washington Post. “AARP has long played a dual role. It advocates for the interests of seniors, and it makes money allowing its name to be used in selling them private insurance, including coverage known as ­Medigap, which supplements government-provided Medicare. The group gets a 4.95 percent royalty each time someone buys Medigap insurance with the AARP brand.” Read more

From Vindy.com—Ohio May Introduce Legislation for Ability to Fine ALFs

“[A]ssisted-living facilities, which are mostly privately funded, don’t face the same penalties [as federally-certified nursing homes receiving Medicare funding]. “There’s really not any kind of strong enough repercussions, particularly in assisted living facilities,” said state Sen. Capri Cafaro of Liberty, D-32nd. “You either get a slap on the wrist or shut down completely.” Cafaro hopes to introduce legislation in the next session of the Ohio General Assembly that would allow the Department of Health to fine assisted-living facilities,” reports Vindy.com. “[Regional director of the state Department of Aging’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program John] Saulitis is working with Cafaro and the Ohio Department of Aging on research for a law that would allow the Department of Health to fine assisted- living facilities.” Read more

From Bloomberg—Raising Medicare Age Could Save U.S. More Than $100 Billion

“A Republican proposal to raise the eligibility age for Medicare may save the federal government more than $100 billion while increasing health-care costs to senior citizens, states and employers. People age 65 and older could pay an extra $2,000 for health insurance if they’re excluded from Medicare, the federal health-care program for the elderly, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation,” reports Bloomberg. “Other government and private health plans would see costs rise as would-be Medicare recipients seek care elsewhere. Savings to the government would accumulate slowly as Medicare began paying benefits to fewer people. The Treasury would collect more in Medicare payroll taxes because many seniors previously eligible for the program would keep working instead, to retain their health insurance. By 2035, the change would reduce projected Medicare spending by 5 percent, according to the CBO.” Read more

From Medical News Today—Aging Brains More Vulnerable to Fraud

“Why are older people especially vulnerable to becoming victims of fraud? A new UCLA study indicates that an important clue may lie in a particular region of the brain that influences the ability to discern who is honest and who is trying to deceive us,” writes Medical News Today. “Older people, more than younger adults, may fail to interpret an untrustworthy face as potentially dishonest, the study shows. The reason for this, the UCLA life scientists found, seems to be that a brain region called the anterior insula, which is linked to disgust and is important for discerning untrustworthy faces, is less active in older adults.” Read more