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Advocacy in Action March 8, 2019

Posted By Jennifer Gill, Friday, March 8, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2019

March 8, 2019

CMS to Lift Nursing Home 5-Star Freeze in April and Make Other Changes to Nursing Home Compare
CMS just announced that the freeze on health inspection ratings of long term care facilities that was instituted in February 2018 will be lifted in April. This is among several changes CMS says it is making to provide greater support to consumers looking to compare the quality of nursing homes via Nursing Home Compare. Major changes include:

  • End of the freeze on health inspections in April and a return to using three rounds of surveys for that score;
  • Higher thresholds for staffing stars and a tighter standard for weekend RN coverage. Currently, care centers that report seven or more days in a quarter with no RN onsite are automatically assigned a one-star staffing rating. In April 2019, the threshold for the number of days without an RN onsite in a quarter that triggers an automatic downgrade to one-star will be reduced from seven days to four days.
    • New quality measures added of long-stay hospitalization standards and emergency room transfers, and higher scoring standards for existing measures.
    • Separate quality ratings for short-stay and long-stay residents and revising the rating thresholds to better identify the differences in quality among nursing homes.
    • More details will be forthcoming from LeadingAge national and LeadingAge North Carolina.

READ the CMS press release and the memo CMS sent to state survey agencies.

North Carolina House Committee on Aging Meets
LeadingAge North Carolina was among organizations in attendance at a meeting earlier this week of the North Carolina House Committee on Aging. Committee members heard from Joyce Massey-Smith (Director for the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services) and Mary Bethel, (executive director for the NC Coalition on Aging). Both Massey-Smith and Bethel provided perspective to legislators on key aging issues in the state, with a particular emphasis on the changing demographic facing policymakers moving forward.

LeadingAge North Carolina Heads for Capitol Hill on March 20
Twenty-four of your LeadingAge North Carolina colleagues from across the state will be attending the upcoming “Day on Capitol Hill,” held in conjunction with LeadingAge national’s annual Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. The full day of Congressional visits will be held on March 20 and feature time with nearly every North Carolina federal officeholder or their staff. We’ll be reporting on those visits in a special March 29 “Advocacy in Action” update.

CMS Nursing Home Employee Satisfaction Survey and Staff Competency Assessment Tools Available for Free
The CMS Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment Program is a three-year effort focused on improving dementia care, reducing adverse events and more. CLICK HERE for more information about the release of new tools on employee satisfaction and staff competency assessments.

The SBA Office of Advocacy Wants to Hear from You About Burdensome Regulations
The federal Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy is gathering information from small businesses about burdensome federal regulations. They invite you to share your experience with burdensome federal regulations HERE. The information you provide is used by SBA in their advocacy efforts and scrubbed of identifying information then passed to the agency/agencies that are creating the burden/s. It is also taken into account by SBA as they plan regional regulatory reform roundtables.

LeadingAge National Public Policy Priorities
Last month, LeadingAge national released its comprehensive set of policy priorities. Together, we’ll be pursuing these short and long-term legislative and administrative advocacy priorities. The national priorities fall into three major categories:

  • Lead Priorities are a primary focus of our daily advocacy work. They include the aging services workforce, nursing homes, affordable housing, managed care/integrated services and home and community-based services.
  • Engage Priorities represent important work on which we collaborate with other organizations. They include Long Term Services and Supports financing reform, Medicare/Medicaid, home health services, hospice services, veterans affairs, behavioral health, rural concerns and elder justice.
  • Monitor Priorities are issues we continue to watch carefully. They include Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, technology and telehealth, medical marijuana and tax policy.

Prospective Payment System Calculator Tool Updated
LeadingAge has updated the Medicare Part-A Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System calculator and the Medicare Part B therapy rate calculator to help members assess and estimate the impact of final payment changes for FY 2019. Access to this tool requires login via My.LeadingAge.

Medicare Observation Days Legislation to be Reintroduced
The 115th Congress did not consider legislation LeadingAge supports to resolve the observation days issue by requiring that all the time Medicare beneficiaries spend in a hospital counts toward the three-day stay requirement for coverage of any subsequent post-acute care. LeadingAge national is pursuing its reintroduction and passage in the new Congress.

Regulatory Tracker Launched
LeadingAge national has launched its new Regulatory Roundup 2.0, a quick and easy tracker to help members find pertinent rules and federal regulations, with timelines for submitting comments and links to any comments LeadingAge may have submitted.

Guidance on Medical Marijuana and Weapons Policies from LeadingAge National
LeadingAge national has published guidance for members on medical marijuana and weapons policies in aging services organizations. This guidance is a starting point for members who are having discussions around these two issues.

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