Unionized Nursing Homes Saw Lower COVID-19 Mortality Rates, Better PPE Access: Study

Nursing homes in New York with unionized workforces had lower mortality rates from COVID-19, as well as greater access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and lower COVID-19 infection rates, according to a new study released September 10 in the journal Health Affairs. Specifically, health care unions in nursing homes were associated with a 1.29 percentage […]

At Least 1 in 5 Nursing Homes Report ‘Severe Shortage’ of Staff and PPE, with No Progress Since May

More than one in five nursing homes reported “severe” shortfalls of both personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing, a new study published in the journal Health Affairs found — and those shortages did not meaningfully improve from May to July. The study is scheduled for publication in a later print edition of the journal, with […]

Harvard Researchers: Officials Should Order Operators to Convert Certain SNFs for COVID-19 Care

In communities where the peak of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus hasn’t yet arrived, authorities should start designating specific skilled nursing facilities as specialized COVID-19 facilities to ease hospital capacity, according to a Wednesday essay in the journal Health Affairs. And as they look to make those designations, authorities should not wait on […]

Verma: Overhaul Led to Significant Growth in ACOs Taking on Risk, But Verdict Out on Spending

A federal overhaul to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), implemented late in 2018, has led to an increase in the number of accountable care organizations (ACOs) taking on downside risk. The redesign of the program, dubbed “Pathways to Success,” generally required new ACOs to take accountability for spending increases after two years; previously ACOs […]

Medicare Spends Significantly More on SNF Stays Than Private Plans — With No Clinical Difference

Commercial insurance payers spend significantly less on post-acute and skilled nursing care — with much shorter SNF stays — compared with Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements. But even though Medicare pays more for post-acute care and SNF stays, there are no significant differences in readmission rates — suggesting that there may not be any clinical benefits to […]

CMS Releases New Skilled Nursing Affiliate Data for ACOs as More Take on Risk

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) overhaul of the Medicare Shared Savings Program is paying off in the form of greater accountability and more risk-taking, CMS administrator Seema Verma wrote in a blog post published Wednesday in Health Affairs. The post came as part of an announcement about accountable care organization (ACO) participation […]

SNFs Serving Vulnerable Populations More Likely to Get Value-Based Penalties

The Medicare Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program, which distributed its first round of incentives and penalties on October 1 of last year, has a goal of rewarding high-quality skilled nursing care by tying Medicare payments to performance. In that round, almost three-quarters of SNFs saw penalties. And a new study published this month in the journal […]

Home Health Produces Worse Outcomes for Sicker Seniors Than Skilled Nursing

While governments and payers increasingly incentivize the provision of long-term care at home instead of in skilled nursing facilities, data about outcomes remains few and far between — with one group of researchers finding that some high-acuity patients fare worse in the community setting. Based on 2012 claims data, a team from the University of […]

75% of Nursing Homes ‘Almost Never’ in Compliance with RN Staffing Levels

The gulf between self-reported and payroll-based staffing records for nursing homes continues to widen, with a new study showing a reality that vastly differs from government expectations. The amount of registered nurse (RN) coverage falls well below the standards set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for most skilled nursing facilities in the […]

Timely, Regular Doctor Visits Could Reduce Readmissions at Nursing Homes

]With the increased premium placed on preventing rehospitalizations from skilled nursing facilities, timely interventions from a doctor can potentially make a major difference. Between 2012 and 2014, about 10.4% of residents did not see a physician at all during their time in the skilled nursing facility, according to a study published Monday in the journal […]

Improving Nursing Care Could Start with Enforcing Existing Laws, Not Passing New Ones

The thorny relationship among the skilled nursing industry, consumer advocates, and regulators could be actively thwarting efforts at improving nursing home quality, one expert argued. “In making their respective cases, stakeholders have expressed divergent views about the current state of nursing home quality and, more specifically, the effectiveness of regulatory oversight efforts,” David Stevenson, an associate professor […]

Hospitals Picking Home Health Over Skilled Nursing Amid Payment Shifts

Hospitals that participated in Medicare’s bundled-payment initiatives were particularly focused on getting patients home first and foremost, rather than sending them to skilled nursing facilities, according to a new study published in Health Affairs. That came as a surprise to the researchers, Jane Zhu of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania […]

Cross-Sector Partnerships Could Address SNF Rehospitalizations

As skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes face increasing pressure to avoid rehospitalizations, they can draw some lessons from a study from Yale and the Scripps Gerontology Institute that examined the impact of cross-sectoral partnerships on preventable health care spending. Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) coordinate social services for older adults across the U.S. and regularly work […]

Medicare Advantage Enrollees More Likely to Enter Low-Quality SNFs

Fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare has been increasingly de-emphasized in favor of newer payment models such as Medicare Advantage (MA), but a new study in the journal Health Affairs suggests that FFS might provide better skilled-nursing choices for its beneficiaries. “Even after accounting for the quality of nursing homes in a geographic area and the quality of Medicare Advantage […]

How Millennials Could Ward Off a Skilled Nursing Staffing Crisis

An influx of millennials is energizing the nursing workforce during a crucial period of demand growth—but that may be offset by a wave of baby boomers retiring en masse. An average millennial is now 186% more likely to become a registered nurse (RN) than an average baby boomer, according to a new study published in the October edition of Health […]

Preferred SNF Networks Reduce Readmissions, But Do They Prevent Choice?

Hospitals that develop preferred provider networks of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are seeing lower readmission rates over time than those that don’t. However, establishing these networks does not come without roadblocks. In a recent study published by Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed health care journal, four hospitals with preferred SNF networks were monitored from 2009 to […]