CMS Takes Steps to Improve Medicaid

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced several ways it plans to improve the Medicaid program — including new proposals for reforms and fewer regulatory burdens, increased efficiency, and more transparency and accountability, according to CMS Administrator Seema Verma.  “Our vision for the future of Medicaid is to reset the federal-state relationship and […]

Health Care Spending Could Reach 40% of Federal Total by 2047

If current policies don’t change, federal spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care programs will grow faster than any other category over the next three decades — eventually reaching 40% of the federal budget. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) presented these statistics in a Wednesday presentation to the Council for Affordable Health Coverage and the American […]

Despite Not Covering Personal Care, Medicare May Be Paying for it Anyway

Medicare spends roughly three times more on beneficiaries who need help with two or more activities of daily living (ADLs) due to physical or cognitive impairments than those that don’t, according to a new study from the Long-Term Quality Alliance (LTQA). The group, which represents more than two dozen industry and consumer organizations with the goal of improving outcomes, examined […]

SNF Compliance Tips for Care Plan, Pharmacy, Smoking Requirements

Skilled nursing providers across the country continue to work hard as Nov. 28 approaches. That’s when the second phase of the new SNF Medicare and Medicaid requirements of participation take effect. The so-called “mega rule” is being implemented in three phases, and this second phase brings a host of new requirements. Here are a few […]

SNFs Renew Push to Change Three-Day Stay Rule

Skilled nursing facility (SNF) operators and industry advocates are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to change a rule related to the way hospital stays are classified. The Observation Stays Coalition—a group formed in 2010 that includes organizations such as the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and AARP—is leading the charge against the […]

Skilled Nursing Facilities Cut Hospitalizations in CMS Initiative

A multi-year initiative from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to lower hospitalizations in long-term care has its first set of finalized results, with data showing that the plan is working so far. CMS on Friday announced that all seven participating sites saw declines in hospitalizations. Six of the seven had statistically significant drops in […]

CMS Official: Focus on Intent of New SNF Regulations

Skilled nursing providers are trying to understand the details of sweeping new Medicare requirements and survey process changes. But SNFs should not get so preoccupied with the finer points that they lose sight of the fundamental goals that the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) intends to achieve with the updates. “The main point […]

AHCA CEO: Skilled Nursing Providers Must Branch Out to Survive

This year might have presented the hardest operating environment ever for skilled nursing operators, American Health Care Association (AHCA) President and CEO Mark Parkinson said this week at the organization’s annual conference in Las Vegas. Favorable demographics ultimately will be a boon to the sector, but in the meantime, there are some strategies that can […]

Quality, Scope of Medicare Advantage Plans Varies Widely

As Medicare Advantage becomes increasingly common in the skilled nursing space, consumers may still have trouble determining whether a plan works best for them — or even provides quality coverage with access to a wide variety of physicians and SNF care. And even if a potential MA enrollee finds a plan that appears to cover […]

House Democrats Ask CMS to Uphold Arbitration Ban

House Democrats on Wednesday called on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to change her mind on reinstating the use of arbitration clauses in skilled nursing contracts. Referencing the recent problems at nursing homes in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, 46 Democratic representatives wrote a letter to Verma asking […]

Paying the Price: HHS Secretary Steps Down Amid Scandal

Department of Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price resigned from his post Friday amid an investigation into his use of private jets at taxpayer expense. The government spent more than $1 million for Price’s travel on private and military aircraft since May, according to Politico, which first reported on the secretary’s travel habits. Those […]

Nursing Home Complaints Up 33%, Some States Slow to Respond

Nursing home complaints handled by state authorities rose by one third between 2011 and 2015 — even as occupancy at skilled nursing facilities declined slightly. In addition, a handful of states accounted for the majority of late investigations, according to a new data brief from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the […]

Skilled Nursing Providers Have Mixed Feelings on Bundled Payments

Less than two-thirds of acute and long-term care providers have found that bundled payments both lower costs and improve care, according to a new survey, though the company behind the numbers says it’s a little more complicated than that. Archway Health, a Watertown, Mass.-based firm that advises health providers on bundled payment models, asked 70 […]

Skilled Nursing Occupancy Drops to Five-Year Low

Skilled nursing occupancy rates have dropped to their lowest levels in the last five years, and the bottom still may not be in sight. SNFs were 81.7% occupied in the second quarter of 2017, according to the most recent data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). That’s a drop from 82.7% in […]

Kansas Failed to Follow Up on Half of Skilled Nursing Deficiencies

Officials in the state of Kansas frequently took skilled nursing facilities at their word when following up on plans to fix certain deficiencies — a violation of federal requirements for SNFs that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services only verified SNFs’ strategies to correct deficiencies 52% of the […]

Common Ownership of SNFs, Hospitals on the Rise Among Investors

Over the past decade, the behind-the-scenes relationship between hospitals and skilled nursing facilities has warmed through more common investors, and researchers from Harvard University are raising questions about competition and antitrust regulations. The percentage of acute care hospitals having common investor ties to the post-acute or hospice sectors increased from 24.6% in 2005 to 48.9% in […]

Iowa Sen. Presses CMS Over Abuse Protections for Skilled Nursing Residents

Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, joined a growing chorus by questioning whether the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is doing enough to protect skilled nursing residents from abuse. In a letter penned last Friday, Grassley pressed CMS on “why it has failed to ensure that nursing home abuse and neglect cases are reported to law […]

SNFs Could Benefit Under Bundled Payment Changes

Skilled nursing facilities are in for a short-term reprieve if a proposal to reduce some bundled payments by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is finalized, according to a recent Fitch Ratings report. CMS proposed reducing some bundled payment models and canceling mandatory programs yet to be implemented. The move, while largely unsurprising given the current […]

CMS Suspends Skilled Nursing Reporting Rules in Harvey’s Wake

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday announced an emergency suspension of Medicare quality reporting requirements for skilled nursing and other health care facilities affected by Hurricane Harvey. Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) located in 32 Texas counties and five Louisiana parishes will be automatically granted exceptions for submitting Quality Reporting Program data […]