COVID-19 Updates

March 26 2020

Top Stories
LT/PAC Providers Applaud Recent Court Decision Finding Observation Stay Status May Be Appealed To Medicare Program Provider Magazine (3/25, Connole, 151K) reports “long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) providers are applauding a decision issued on March 24 by Judge Michael Shea of the U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., that said certain Medicare beneficiaries classified as being in observation status at hospitals and not admitted as inpatients can appeal this designation to the Medicare program.” In response to the ruling in the Alexander v. Azar case, American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) senior director of not for profit and constituent services Dana Ritchie said, “This is an important win, and positive step for our residents. … The three-day stay rule causes many outpatients who need follow-up care to be on their own or in debt with thousands in out-of-pocket costs because they do not qualify for Medicare coverage in a nursing center.” Ritchie “says for years AHCA/NCAL has advocated to eliminate what is a ‘confusing policy barrier by recognizing observation stays as qualifying stays for the purposes of the three-day stay requirement or eliminating the three-day requirement altogether.’”AHCA/NCAL in the News
Editor Praises AHCA/NCAL For COVID-19 YouTube Series
In an article for McKnight’s Long Term Care News (3/26), Executive Editor James M. Berklan writes that some professional organizations are “grandslam-worthy” in their efforts related to coronavirus, including the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living as a “prime” example. For instance, on Wednesday, “AHCA/NCAL initiated a YouTube series featuring President and CEO Mark Parkinson…with the association’s chief quality and medical officer, David Gifford.” According to Berklan, “Whether you’re a dues-paying member or not, their assurances and wisdom remain there for the taking – and for putting to good use.” Berklan says “the calm, assuring banter leaves viewers with a full sense of confidence – both in the profession’s prospects for dealing with the historic health emergency, but also its leaders.”

Gifford: Inability Of Health Care Workers To Be Tested For Coronavirus Makes Situation Worse
CQ Roll Call (3/25, Kopp, 154K) reports the CDC’s guidance for health Care workers with coronavirus leaves “a loophole for hospitals and nursing homes facing a shortage of manpower if they ‘determine that the recommended approaches cannot be followed.’’” Although “trade associations representing hospitals and nursing homes have supported the CDC’s relaxed recommendations, saying a crush of COVID-19 patients could require all hands on deck,” they also have said “that the real impediment to getting workers back on the job is a shortage of diagnostic tests.” Although Vice President Pence said “Sunday that health care workers can get tested quickly, even if they don’t have symptoms,” chief medical officer of the American Health Care Association National Center for Assisted Living David Gifford says that’s not true for nursing homes throughout the country. Gifford said that workers are declined when they ask for tests, adding, “We support the CDC guidance, but the lack of testing and not making our workforce a priority is making matters worse.”

Struggle Exists Between Need For Hospital Discharge Of Elderly Patients Who Have Had COVID-19 And Protecting Long-Term Care Facility Residents From The Pandemic
The Los Angeles Times (3/25, Dolan, Ryan, Mejia, 4.64M) reports that “hospitals are desperately trying to discharge patients to clear space for an expected wave of COVID-19 victims.” However, “nursing homes are reluctant to accept any new patients – or even returning residents – until it is proved that they are virus-free.” Florida Health Care Association spokeswoman Kristen Knapp “said hospitals are in a tough spot. … But her organization is advising members to be ‘adamant’ about the need for tests for returning residents.” Knapp added, “We care for a very vulnerable population, and so our goal is to do everything we can to keep the virus out of the building. We’re really focused on that. … If they go out, we’re asking that they’re tested before they come back.”

New $2T Stimulus Package Includes $200 Million For CMS To Assist In Long-Term Care Infection Control, Support State COVID-19 Response
McKnight’s Long Term Care News (3/26, Brown) reports the bipartisan deal “includes $200 million for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to assist nursing homes with infection control and support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in facilities.” On Wednesday, AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson “said stimulus package funds are expected to help every nursing home and assisted living facility in the country.”         Skilled Nursing News (3/25, Spanko) reports “the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has placed infection control at the center of its emergency nursing home inspection protocols, suspending all non-emergency surveys and releasing stricter guidance for operators earlier this week,” and “the Senate’s landmark vote to boost the economy and fortify the nation’s health care system puts additional financial support behind CMS’s goals.” Additionally, “the final package also provides $100 billion in funding for ‘a new program to provide grants to hospitals, public entities, not-for-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to cover unreimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus,’ according to” a summary released by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

AHCA/NCAL State Affiliates Continue Their Work To Address Coronavirus
AHCA/NCAL member organizations throughout the country continue their efforts to deal with coronavirus concerns. For instance, the Gant (PA) Daily (3/25) reports Pennsylvania “health workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities are calling on the state to provide them with more masks, hand sanitizer, and paid time off, as Pennsylvania nursing homes begin to see cases of the coronavirus.” A letter sent to Gov. Tom Wolf (D) Monday by “groups that represent nursing and long-term care centers” asked for $290 million in emergency state and federal funding, “needed to supply staff with supplies like coveted N95 masks, gloves, disposable gowns, and face shields, the letter said, as well as to help facilities pay for paid sick leave.” According to the groups, which include the Pennsylvania Heath Care Association, “No group of people are at higher risk than older adults, and no group of organizations will be asked to support them through both prevention and mitigation more than nursing homes and long-term care providers.”         The Des Moines (IA) Register (3/25, 404K) reports across Iowa “in recent weeks, long-term care facilities cited federal guidelines in limiting visitations because of the coronavirus outbreak,” and Iowa Health Care Association president and CEO Brent Willett said in a statement, “These screening processes enabled facilities to detect these cases quickly and respond … they have implemented protective protocols, notified residents, families and staff members and contacted public health officials.”         The Morgantown (WV) Dominion Post (3/25, Elliott, 46K) reports that Marty Wright, “the CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association said state nursing facilities are doing all they can to stay on top of the pandemic.” Wright said, “We know the virus has a disproportionate impact on our elderly, and our primary focus remains stopping the spread of the virus within this facility and others. Facilities statewide remain vigilant in taking preventative measures to combat the virus and we are grateful to all the local and state officials who have remained in regular contact with facilities around the state to offer assistance.” When addressing an outbreak at a facility in Morgantown, Wright also added, “We will continue to monitor the situation at the nursing home in Morgantown, and while not one of our member facilities, we stand ready to help its residents, staff and their respective loved ones in any way we can.” Profession News
Survey: Nearly 14% Of Millennials Who Plan To Care For Aging Parents Expect To Help Them Move To Assisted Living Community At Some Point
McKnight’s Senior Living (3/25, Bowers) reports that “almost 14% (13.7%) of millennials who plan to provide care for their parents when needed expect that they will help their parents move to an assisted living community when appropriate, according to a newly released survey by search website CaringAdvisor.” Among “millennials who already are providing some type of care for their parents, however, only 1.5% had parents who were living in assisted living, with the balance either providing care in their own homes (35.8%) or in their parents’ homes (62.7%).” The survey found “the most common signs that parents needed care, according to respondents, were aging (62.7%), loneliness (35.1%), disability (27.6%), chronic illness (26.1%) or memory loss (20.9%).”

Daily Dose Of Aspirin Won’t Slow Mental Decline, Research Indicates HealthDay (3/25, Reinberg, 17K) reports that “although the anti-inflammatory effects of aspirin have been touted as protection against thinking and memory (or ‘cognitive’) problems from Alzheimer’s and other dementias, a large, randomized trial suggests aspirin won’t slow mental decline.” According to the research published in the journal Neurology, “no difference in the risk for mild cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease was found between people who took aspirin and those who did not.” Additionally, there was no “difference between the two groups in rate of mental decline.”

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