Healthcare News Round-Up Vol. 5

Here is the weekly round-up of healthcare news headlines. Do any of these topics resonate with you? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.

CMS Issues New Requirements For States Hoping For Medicaid Funds

Provider Magazine reported that the Obama Administration announced that a new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule will require states to develop “person-centered care plans” to receive access to Medicaid funds for home- and community-based services in an effort to “address health and long-term services and support needs in a manner that reflects individual preferences and goals.” According to a fact sheet issued by the organization, “The rules require that the person-centered planning process is directed by the individual with long-term support needs and may include a representative whom the individual has freely chosen and others chosen by the individual to contribute to the process. The rule describes the minimum requirements for person-centered plans developed through this process, including that the process results in a person-centered plan with individually identified goals and preferences.”

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Patients With Chronic Diseases Can Benefit From Simple Steps

The Wall Street Journal reports that for older individuals with chronic diseases, taking steps to manage their conditions may ultimately be beneficial. Simple things like adhering to a certain diet or exercise regimen can be beneficial, although some patients still may not stick to them. Additionally, some physicians may not be available to help patients between office visits. The article discusses the chronic-care model, which aims to help patients learn about self-management skills.

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CMS Reforms Community Living Regulations

Senior Housing News reported the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a Friday ruling to enhance community living options for home- and community-based Medicaid services for seniors and disabled individuals, ensuring that HCBS programs provide complete access to community living benefits and assisted living community services. The CMS rule states that, “Assisted living facilities are not excluded from being considered home and community-based if they are structured and operate in a manner that adheres to the requirements set forth in this rule.”

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Nursing Homes Not Perfect, But Necessary

John O’Connor writes in the McKnight’s Long-Term Care News “Daily Editors’ Notes” blog that nursing homes “are awful – until you need them,” acknowledging the “many aspects of senior care that tend to be… less than pleasant” while certain business practices have also harmed the industry’s image. However, he asserts that “the torch-and-pitchfork crowd” fail to acknowledge that nursing homes exist to fill the need of caring for our elders and “do their job better than many so-called preferred choices,” citing the 40% greater likelihood that individuals receiving home- and community-based care will befall a “preventable hospital stay.”

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Aging Asian-Americans Face Unique Difficulties

The New York Times reports that Asian-Americans face particular challenges in caring for elder relatives, as language barriers and cultural values create difficulty in treating such individuals by traditional means. An RTI international senior research analyst said of the concept of filial piety, “This idea that the younger generation is culturally mandated to take care of their parents is deeply ingrained in the Chinese culture. Children are supposed to take care of older parents in need.” However, limited English proficiency among elderly Asian Americans is the primary issue, according to National Asian Pacific Center on Aging Northeast Regional Coordinator Kun Chang.

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Telemedicine Represents Growing Industry

CNBC reported that the field of telemedicine may be able to assist elderly individuals living alone when they suffer injuries. Devices such as the MobileCare Monitor, a “sports watch–like health monitoring device,” allow nurses’ aides to respond to falls quickly by texting the aide’s smartphone and alerting the Web-based CareStation interface. After using the system for two years, Lutheran SeniorLife saw its rate of seniors needing to move into assisted-living decrease from 20% to 12%. According to the article, such articles save money and encourage “accountable care” as well.

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Members Of Congress Announce Medicare Reform Bill

USA Today reports that Senator Ron Wyden (D) and three other members of Congress yesterday released a sweeping set of proposed Medicare reforms. The bipartisan proposals would strive to “transform Medicare from a program that pays for services separately to one in which teams of caregivers get one payment for providing individualized, long-term care to chronically ill patients with two or more illnesses.”

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Better Care, Lower Cost Act Allows Nursing And Rehab Providers To Join Medicare Networks

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News reports a bill introduced would allow skilled nursing and rehabilitation providers to join Medicare networks treating chronically ill patients. According to Rep. Peter Welch, (D-VT), “It is essential that we do a better job coordinating healthcare services for seniors suffering from chronic diseases. Every day, these seniors struggle to navigate a maze of healthcare providers, too often on their own.” This “Better Care, Lower Cost Act” sets up the Better Care Program, enabling providers to form networks like accountable care organizations that focus on coordinating chronic condition care.

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Report: 3/4 Of Medicaid Recipients Will Receive Benefits Through Managed Care Organizations

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News writes that an Avalere Health report states that 75% of Medicaid enrollees can expect managed care organizations to begin managing their benefits next year. States like Maryland are choosing to administer benefits through MCOs for greater budget certainty, while MCOs can also offer services the state fails to provide or coordinate care. According to Avalere Vice President Caroline Pearson, “These changes will expand Medicaid plans’ coverage into more rural geographies and will essentially end fee-for-service Medicaid in some states.”

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Study: Healthcare Professionals Working With Seniors Face Additional Pressure

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News reports a recent Boston University study published in The Gerontologist indicates healthcare professionals working with seniors tend to “experience complex and at times distressing effects when they also are caregivers for aging family members.” The jobs tended to involve “external and internal conflicts” as well as a “range of emotional struggles,” with some caregivers failing to maintain the detachment they had with other patients. Others felt pressure from other family members holding them to high standards because of their “perceived competence.”

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