MedPAC: Congress Should Cut Medicare Rates for Skilled Nursing Facilities

Citing high Medicare margins and concerns over therapy services, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has asked Congress to cut reimbursement rates for skilled nursing facilities. The non-partisan agency called on Congress to scrap the Medicare market basket rate increases for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 — which would amount to 2% and 2.1%, respectively […]

Minnesota Providers Focus on New Practices Amid Resident Abuse Crisis

Nightmarish stories about elder care in Minnesota have dominated the state’s news in recent months. The reports were especially striking given the state’s reputation as a haven for seniors: Minnesota has historically been named one of the best states for seniors, including by AARP’s 2017 state scorecard on long-term services and supports, where it ranked […]

Feds Decide to Sit Out Fraud Case Against ManorCare Hospice Arm

The U.S. government declined to intervene in a False Claims Act (FCA) case brought against HCR ManorCare’s hospice division, though it asked to be kept updated on pleadings in the case. The decision to not intervene marks another victory in FCA cases for ManorCare; in November, a Medicare fraud case against the Toledo, Ohio-based skilled nursing […]

HHS Secretary Wants Providers to Take Amazon, Yelp’s Lead

If Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar has his way, the health care consumer of the future will select providers the way they currently decide where to eat or which knockoff iPhone charger to buy. “Imagine a day when health care delivery in the United States functions the way other parts of our economy […]

Industry Responds to Democrats’ Call for Skilled Nursing Scrutiny

In a Valentine’s Day letter to top health officials, a group of influential Senate Democrats asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider certain rollbacks of nursing home regulations. In response, a leading industry group on Wednesday wrote back to the senators to clarify and rebut some of their points. “We think […]

Democrats Ask CMS to Halt Skilled Nursing Regulatory Rollback

A group of 12 Democratic U.S. senators slammed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a letter sent last week, claiming that its leadership’s decision to ease regulatory restrictions on nursing homes has put seniors in danger. “We write with deep concern over a string of actions by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid […]

NHC Saved $8.5 Million Under New Tax Plan in 2017

National HealthCare Corporation (NYSE American: NHC) turned in a positive 2017 with the help of the recent Republican-led tax overhaul. The Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based skilled nursing provider announced Tuesday that it logged net income of $56.2 million for the year ended December, a boost of 11.2% from NHC’s performance in 2016. Last year’s performance included an […]

Benefits of Advanced Nursing Degrees Outweigh Staffing Squeeze

A landmark law in New York State could present additional challenges for skilled nursing providers, but major industry trade groups say that the potential benefits for residents could outweigh the staffing stress. Late last year, the Empire State passed a sweeping law that will require nurses to obtain Bachelor’s of Science in nursing degrees within […]

HHS Proposes New Payment System for Skilled Nursing Providers

The new proposed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget was released on Monday, and it’s a mixed bag for skilled nursing providers. President Trump’s spending blueprint would make changes to Medicaid by creating a “market-based health-care grant” that could fund programs in addition to the traditional Medicaid program — a change that would […]

Senate Budget Plan Cuts $2 Billion from Skilled Nursing Facilities

UPDATE: The Senate’s spending bill has passed both houses of Congress, and President Trump signed it into law Friday morning. Should the Senate’s attempt at passing a two-year budget succeed, skilled nursing operators could be in for another serious financial hit. “We are disappointed that the Senate budget proposal includes a $2 billion cut to […]

Therapy Cap Repeal Part of House, Senate Budget Bills

Both the House and the Senate proposals to keep the government open and funded include a repeal of the controversial cap on Medicare-funded therapy services. Long opposed by the skilled nursing and physical therapy industries, the rule placed a $2,010 cap on therapy services for Medicare recipients. While Congress had routinely granted exemptions to the caps, those […]

Human Rights Group Alleges Rampant Unnecessary Drug Use in SNFs

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a non-governmental organization that publishes reports and briefings on human rights conditions in about 90 countries, on Monday released a report estimating that more than 179,000 people in U.S. nursing facilities are inappropriately given antipsychotic drugs. “The drugs’ use as a chemical restraint — for staff convenience or to discipline or […]

Why Getting an Extra CMS Star Can Boost a SNF’s Census

Consumers are using the Five-Star Quality Rating System to make decisions about skilled nursing care — and there could be a major financial incentive for providers to earn that extra star. Adding a single star to a skilled nursing facility’s rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) boosts admissions in many cases, […]

AARP: ‘Critical Gaps and Inequalities’ for Minnesota SNF Residents

A new report aims to address the issue of elder abuse in Minnesota after the revelation of hundreds of cases of crime and neglect in the state’s senior care centers. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton asked AARP Minnesota to convene a consumer working group in response to a series of articles by the Minneapolis Star Tribune […]

Could Trump’s Religious Objection Guidance Create SNF Turmoil?

On first glance, the Department of Health and Human Services’ new guidance on personal religious beliefs might not appear to affect the long-term care industry. Years from now, however, it could play an integral role in the way SNFs operate and staff facilities. When the government rolled out its two-pronged approach last week — establishing […]

Florida Nursing Homes Agree to Softened Rules on Backup Power

The Florida skilled nursing industry has collectively agreed to a modified rule that requires operators in the state to have access to backup electricity sources in the event of a power outage. The decision concludes months of discussion among skilled nursing providers and the state legislature regarding a rule proposed by Gov. Rick Scott following […]

Azar, Open to Medicaid Caps, Confirmed as HHS Secretary

After a combative confirmation process, the United States Senate has confirmed Alex Azar as the second Department of Health and Human Services secretary in the Trump administration. Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive with Eli Lilly & Co., received a 55-43 vote of support from the U.S. Senate, with six Democrats defecting from the pack to […]

Immigration Battle Could Squeeze Nursing Home Finances

The long-term care industry dodged a bullet this week with a short government shutdown, but the fate of a federal budget still hinges on Congress reaching consensus over immigration — another issue that could have an outsized impact on the skilled nursing space. Should Congressional Republicans attempt to clamp down on legal immigration and the so-called […]

How Skilled Nursing Can Ride Out a Wave of Bad Press

For some, any press is good press. But this phrase isn’t true for the skilled nursing and senior care space, which is facing a wave of negative media attention — including a damning article in Time Magazine that brought to light major concerns of abusive behavior toward residents and binding arbitration contracts that left some […]

What SNFs Can Expect During a Government Shutdown

Though the federal government officially shut down early Saturday morning, skilled nursing and other long-term care operators have little reason to worry about reimbursements — at least for the time being. Medicare and Veterans Affairs-related reimbursements must continue even if the government suspends discretionary spending, as these programs are mandatory. In addition, because state governments […]