Weekly News, August 25 2008
A round-up of some of the most popular long-term care news headlines for the week of August 25, 2008.
Sprinklers Now a Must for Nursing Homes
By Cindy Skrzycki. The Washington Post. Aug 26, 2008
A new rule, issued by CMS on August 13, requires nursing to have fully-installed fire sprinkler systems within five years. “Nursing homes support the rule and pushed for it,” said Lyn Bentley, director of regulatory services for the American Health Care Association.
“The concern was primarily the cost,” said Thomas Hamilton, director of CMS’s survey and certification group. Installation of sprinklers in the 2,466 facilities that do not yet have fully completed systems will cost an $847 million.
Payment errors greater than projected for Medicare
By The Associated Press. Aug 25, 2008
Although CMS reported a 7.5 percent error rate for DME, equal to $700 million in improper payments during the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 2006, a closer inspection by a contractor for the HHS inspector general uncovered an error rate of 28.6 percent.
Number of uninsured drops; Poverty holds steady
By The Associated Press. New York Times. Aug 26, 2008 10:14 AM ET
A report released this morning by the Census Bureau says that the number of uninsured Americans dropped by more than 1 million in 2007, while the nation’s poverty rate remained constant at 12.5 percent.
MI: SEIU spending scandal spreads to Michigan
Rickman Jackson, former official in Los Angeles chapter, takes leave of absence from Michigan local. Action comes after Times reports of payments to firms owned by L.A. leader’s family
OR: Growth strategy costs Oregon’s largest retirement home provider
by Jeff Manning and Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian. Aug 26, 2008
Jim Carlson, executive director of Oregon Health Care Association said, “There are definitely going to be folks working with lenders trying to restructure debt and some who will probably deal with (occupancy) issues if this ends up being a prolonged slump. But Sunwest is facing a lot of issues that are fairly unique, not the least of which is size, their exposure throughout the country and a lot of their portfolio being recent acquisitions.”
PA: Assisted-living regs panned for going too far, not far enough
By John George. Philadelphia Business Journal. Aug 26, 2008
UT: Prison time for man sexually assaulted elderly nursing home resident
By Jason Bergreen. Salt Lake Tribune. Aug 25, 2008
Former nursing home aide has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison
WI: Assisted Living Concepts expands credit agreement
The Business Journal of Milwaukee. Aug 25, 2008
Living Longer, in Good Health to the End
By Jane E. Brody. New York Times. Aug 26, 2008
“Compared with non-survivors, men with exceptional longevity had a healthier lifestyle, had a lower incidence of chronic diseases and were three to five years older at disease onset,” said a report by Dr. Laurel B. Yates of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and her Boston colleagues “They had better late-life physical function and mental well-being. More than 68 percent rated their late-life health as excellent or very good, and less than 8 percent reported fair or poor health.” Exercise is the single most potent predictor of healthy longevity in both men and women.
Senator urges review of Medicare payment errors
Sen. Chuck Grassley wants a follow-up review of Medicare’s 2007 payment error rate because of irregularities in the previous year’s audit.
By Jay Weaver. Miami Herald. Aug 27, 2008
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) yesterday sent a letter to Medicare’s acting administrator, Kerry Weems, requesting a follow-up review of Medicare’s 2007 payment error rate, in light of 2006 audit errors. He also asked that the HHS inspector general investigate ‘which Medicare officials told their outside auditors to ”deviate” from government policies in the 2006 audit — including a failure to contact physicians and patients to see if equipment was actually prescribed and delivered.’
”This is unconscionable and an affront to every American taxpayer who is footing the bill, especially because we are not talking about millions of dollars,” Grassley said. “Instead, we are talking billions of dollars lost to fraud, waste and/or abuse in 2006.”
CA: Nurse assistant works hard to pay her SEIU dues
Spending by local’s president hits hard when you are schlepping bedpans for $10 an hour.
By Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times. Aug 27, 2008
While Alba, always cheerful, works long hours as a CNA at a Los Angeles nursing home, where she makes $10 an hour to support a husband with disabilities and a teenage son, the head of the United Long-Term Care Workers local of the Service Employees International Union has been using her $70 in monthly dues to support a lavish lifestyle.
“Beverly Hills,” she said, reading about the cigar club. “Four Seasons? I’m paying for this. They’re doing this with my money…”
CA: Evacuees seek safety from advancing flames
By Kimberly Ross. Record Searchlight. Aug 27, 2008
A wind-fueled fire forced the evacuation of assisted living residents from Mountain Vista Senior Apartments in Redding, California yesterday. A day care center for developmentally disabled adults was also evacuated as a precaution. An evacuation center was set up at a local church.
Budget crisis impacts nursing homes
California’s nursing homes are the latest victims of the Sacramento budget stalemate. Two months without a state budget is beginning to take a painful toll on senior citizens and the nursing homes that care for them.
By Vic Lee. KGO (Belmont). Aug 27, 2008
CO: Disabled Democrats hail Obama, boo McCain
By alan Gathright. Rocky Mountain News. Aug 27, 2008
Disabled Democratic activists fear that McCain will continue to put conservative judges into the Supreme Court. “One more conservative judge (on the Supreme Court) and we lose the Americans with Disabilities Act, we lose the Fair Housing Act, we lose everything that we value,” activist Julie Reiskin told members of the Disabled Caucus at the Democratic National Convention, being held in Denver this week.
ME: Maine assisted living benefits cut
Information from: WMEA-FM, http://www.mpbn.net. Boston Globe. Aug 27, 2008
MHCA President Richard Erb said cuts in funding to 120 assisted living facilities in Maine, which took effect Aug. 1, came just as facilities are struggling with rising fuel and food costs, stunning members of his organization.
NY: State, Feds Fine 16 Nursing Homes
North Country Gazette. Aug 27, 2008
NC: Heavy rain floods streets, prompts evacuations
By Steve Lyttle and Gail Smith-Arrants. Charlotte; Charlotte Observer. Aug 17, 2008 9:53 AM
Residents of nursing homes in Kannapolis and Salisbury were evacuated as rain from Tropical Storm Fay threatened to flood the facilities. Fifty-one residents of Kannapolis Village are being sheltered at a local elementary school, and are waiting to move to the Kannapolis YMCA later this morning. The area has received over 8.5 inches of rain in the past day.
Nursing home visits from Fido have lasting benefit
By Crystal Phend, Staff Writer, MedPage Today. August 27, 2008
Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
“Prosocial behavior — eye contact, smiling, verbal communication, and other responsiveness — increased from a mean score of about 14 during the baseline period to 21 during the intervention and remained at an average of 20 during follow-up. Memory problems among participants decreased from an average 16 at baseline to seven during the intervention and remained at a score of nine over the next six weeks.”
Nursing home residents can participate in care despite dementia
By Crystal Phend, Staff Writer, MedPage Today. August 27, 2008
Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
“One of the big concerns that a lot of staff expressed during training was that older adults would deny their pain,” Dr. Saliba said.
Overall, the nurses who administered the interviews changed their minds.
“I was wrong; it saved me time,” one nurse said, and another noted, “Residents don’t mind being asked and you really learn a lot.”
Drug error rate low for assisted living patients: Study
Reuters Health. Aug 26, 2008
Medicare overpaid on drugs with new generics, report says
From Bloomberg News. Los Angeles Times. Aug 28, 2008
Because of a two-month delay incorporating market prices of new generics, Medicare is needlessly wasting millions of dollars, according to an HHS report.
Report: Hospital costs slow under pressure by insurers
By Avram Goldstein, Bloomberg News. Denver Post. Aug 28, 2008
Pressure by insurers to increase both outpatient care and the use of generics resulted in a significant slow-down in hospital cost increases in 2006.
CA: Labor Department reportedly joins investigation of SEIU payments
U.S. authorities are examining hundreds of thousands of dollars paid by the union and a related charity to firms owned by relatives of the Los Angeles local’s president, sources say.
By Paul Pringle. Los Angeles times. Aug 28, 2008-08-28
CA: New Recovery Centers Drive Growth For Nursing Home Operator
By Kevin Harlin, Investor’s Business Daily. Aug 27, 2008
Skilled Healthcare Group openiing specialized Express Recovery units at its nursing homes and marketing them to doctors, hospitals and others who might refer those short-term, high-reimbursement patients. “Our skilled nursing facilities with Express Recovery Units show considerable improvement in skilled mix and typically have better over-all performance than those without one,” said Skilled Healthcare CEO, Boyd Hendrickson.
FL: State economist says Florida facing more budget troubles
By Jim Saunders. News Journal. Aug 28, 2008
Following cuts of $75 million in January and $164 million in July, Florida’s nursing homes may face more cuts next year. Tony Marshall, lobbyist for the Florida Health Care Association says facilities don’t know how they can sustain non-stop cuts while continuing to provide quality care.
IL: Man wearing stocking robs nursing home of drugs
Belleville News-Democrat. Aug 28, 2008
“He approached a nurse who was preparing medications for the patients, displayed a handgun and demanded the medication,” said Maryville Police Chief Rich Schardan.
IN: Bethesda Gardens celebrates National Assisted Living Week, Sept 7-13
The Tribune-Star. Aug 28, 2008
In celebration of this year’s theme, “Filling Lives with Love,” Bethesda Gardens will honor residents by hosting a Grandparent Day, a health clinic, a picnic with lunch and games, a Mexican Fiesta, a wine and cheese event and “Monkey Business-fraud and Scam.”
LA: Officials May Evacuate New Orleans as Gustav Nears
ABC News. Aug 28, 2008
New Orleans will be evacuated by if a Category 3 or stronger hurricane comes within 60 hours of the city. All residents will be encouraged to leave the city via bus and train. Emergency preparations also are under way along Mississippi’s coast.
MD: County to write off nearly $600K in bad debt for nursing home
By Kevin Spradlin. Cumberland Times-News. Aug 27, 2008
Allegany County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, one of only three remaining county-run nursing homes in Pennsylvania, will be rescued this time, but the county sees the necessity to follow the lead of other counties in getting out of the nursing home business by selling the facility.
Groundbreaking Advance Allows for ‘Reprogramming’ of Adult Cells
Research Could Lead to Bevy of Cures, Sidesteps Debate Over Embryonic Stem Cells
By Rob Stein. The Washington Post. Aug 27, 2008
Harvard biologists have transformed one type of fully developed adult cell into another inside live mice, in a big step that could lead to cures for diabetes, heart disease, strokes and many other conditions, eliminating the need for transplants or drugs.
without the need for drugs, transplants or other therapies.
CT: Elderly pen pals marry in nursing home
UPI. Aug 27, 2008
The Kimberley Hall nursing home in Windsor, Connecticut, hosted the wedding of 85-year-old Thelma Symonds and 96-year old Chauncey Christofferson. “We actually fell in love the old-fashioned way,” Christofferson said. “(We wrote) for seven months until I finally came to meet her. I knew who to look for, her room number. I walked right into her room, unannounced.”
LA: STORM UPDATE: Louisiana Nursing Home Association releases action plan for families of residents
The Advertiser.com. Aug 28, 2008
With tropical storm/hurricane Gustav bearing down on Louisiana, the Louisiana Nursing Home Association has put out an action plan for family members of skilled nursing facility residents. Joe Donchess, the Louisiana Nursing Home Association Executive Director stated, “Nursing home evacuation, and even sheltering in place, is a massive undertaking that requires great planning and organization on the part of the nursing home. As such, you should not wait until this weekend to make decisions about a family member in a facility.”
For lists of LA nursing home evacuations prior to, or during the storm, see: www.LNHA.org
LA: Jindal storm update says Saturday evacuations possible
By Capital Bureau. Times Picayune. Aug 28, 2008
Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, announced today that skilled nursing facilities and hospitals are now sending two updates a day to the Department of Health and Hospitals to ensure evacuation plans are on track. Ambulance assistance is standing by in the event it is needed for the evacuation of residents and patients with critical medical needs. Shelters and busses have also been made ready should Gustav stay on its present course towards LA.
LA: St. Charles Parish nursing homes to evacuate Friday morning
By Sandra Barbier, The Times-Picayune. Aug 28, 2008
Acting on the orders of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, the evacuation of two nursing homes in St. Charles Parish is planned for Friday morning. By evacuating skilled nursing facility residents first, the busses used for less critical patients’ can make it back to the area to be available for the evacuation of other residents in need on Saturday.
New Katrina death tally: Half of victims 75 and up
By Lindsey Tanner, Associated Press. Aug 28, 2008
A new study finds that about 50 percent of the almost 1,000 people that died in Hurricane Katrina were 75 or older. According to the researchers, “The findings in this report will aid public health and emergency preparedness efforts and may help reduce the mortality burden in future natural disasters.”
TX: Perry Issues Disaster Declaration Ahead of Gustav
Will also allow Texas to help other states if storm hits there
By Jim Forsyth, WOAI , FOX 1200. Aug 28, 2008
Plans are being made well in advance of Gustav’s arrival, to protect Texas residents from the impending storm. In the event the storm tracks to the West of its predicted rout, Governor Perry wants to make certain all residents, nursing homes and hospitals on the Texas coast are prepared. The Department of Health and Human Services will be assisting hospitals and skilled nursing facilities with any necessary evacuations.
GA: Georgia keeps Medicaid, PeachCare intact
Advocates cheer the news as other programs get slashed
By Craig Schneider. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Aug 28, 2008
ME: Loss of bed-hold payments hurting residental care homes
By Victoria Wallack. Times Record. Aug 28, 2008
MI: Editorial: High-tech health care for Michigan
By The Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board. Aug 28, 2008
NY: Immigrant stranded at nursing home
Has cost taxpayers over $1 million. Other facilities have wrestled with same issue.
By Michael H. Samuels. Long Island Business News. Aug 29, 2008