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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

December 20, 2011

OIG Issues Report on CLASS Program

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has produced a report on the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program.

The report provides an overview of the program beginning January 1, 2011. It also covers the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ announcement in October that the benefit plan is not actuarially sound for the next 75 years.

To read the full report, visit the OIG’s website.

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National Center for Health Statistics Issues Brief on Residential Care Facilities

The National Center for Health Statistics has issued a new resource on residential care facilities, including assisted living and board and care facilities. Data Brief No. 78 – Residential Care Facilities: A Key Sector in the Spectrum of Long-Term Care Providers in the United States: 2010 compiles data about the number of residents and beds in different size facilities nationwide.

Read the full brief.

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Department of Labor Grants Basic Labor Protections to Home Care Workers

Home care workers may soon win basic labor protections, thanks to a proposed rule announced last week by President Obama and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. The rule would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to these workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

For more information, read Direct Care Alliance’s press release.

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PHI Publishes Report on Home Care Workers

PHI has published an in-depth analysis of the largest and fastest-growing workforce in the nation - the 2.5 million home care and personal assistance aides who provide long-term services and supports to elders and people living with disabilities in home and community-based settings. The report, Caring in America – A Comprehensive Analysis of the Nation’s Fastest-Growing Jobs: Home Health and Personal Care Aides, presents a complete picture of the home care workforce.

"Carework in America is at a crossroads," said PHI Director of Policy Research Dorie Seavey, Ph.D., who authored the report with PHI Policy Associate Abby Marquand, M.P.H. "We can continue the status quo of poorly supported and poorly compensated jobs, consigning home care workers to near-poverty earnings and home care to a revolving door of caregivers," Seavey said. "Or, we can leverage this workforce's enormous potential as both an underutilized asset in our health care system and as one of the strongest job growth engines that our economy has to offer.”

Read the full report.

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Materials from Volunteer Recruitment Webinar - Available Now!

On November 30, 2011, NORC hosted a webinar titled “Tips for Successful Volunteer Recruitment” featuring four presenters from a variety of program structures representing the state, local and volunteer ombudsman perspective.

Kathie Gately, State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (AR), Darlene Cray, Volunteer Program Coordinator (NH), Juanita Beale, Volunteer Coordinator, King County (WA) and Diane Bishop, Certified Volunteer Ombudsman (OR) shared their successful volunteer recruitment strategies (including online recruitment, creative recruitment advertising, collaboration with other agencies and innovative program materials).

We have posted the recorded webinar, materials shared by the presenters and a new NORC Tip Sheet regarding volunteer program assessment, retention and program expansion to the NORC website. To access the recorded webinar and additional materials, click here.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Amity Overall-Laib at aoveralllaib@theconsumervoice.org.

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CMS Issues New Guidelines on Use of Federally Imposed CMP Funds

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Approval: Beginning January 1, 2012, States must obtain prior approval from CMS for the use of federally imposed CMP funds, as follows:

-Effective January 1, 2012 CMS approval is required for any new project, new grantee, or new use of federally imposed CMP funds, as well as for any previously State-approved use or project that is planned or approved for a period that will endure more than 36 months from December 31, 2011.

-Current State-approved CMP projects or uses that a State has in effect prior to January 1, 2012 do not require retrospective CMS approval so long as the project, grantee, use or purpose is not planned to endure for a period of more than 36 months from December 31, 2011. If the period of performance is planned or approved for a period of more than 36 months, then the project must receive CMS approval.

-This memorandum replaces a previous version of S&C: 11-42-NH dated September 30, 2011. Please disregard the September 30, 2011 version.

State Options to Enlist Many Entities: States may direct collected CMP funds to a variety of capable organizations as long as funds are used in accordance with statutory intent, the use is consistent with Federal law and policy, and the use is approved by the CMS.

Read the full guidelines.

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Kaiser Family Foundation Publishes Survey on Money Follows the Person Program

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has published a new survey on the Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration grant program that gives states further options to transition Medicaid beneficiaries living in institutions back to the community. Enacted into law in 2006 as part of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), the MFP demonstration provides states with enhanced federal matching funds for twelve months for each Medicaid beneficiary transitioned from an institutional setting to a community-based setting. With the passage of health reform, the Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration grant program was extended through 2016.

A total of 43 states and the District of Columbia have received federal grant money under the program to transition Medicaid individuals living in institutions back into their homes or the community.  As of August 2011, nearly 17,000 individuals nationally had been transitioned since the program’s inception. This survey is a follow-up to surveys conducted in 2010 and 2008.

For more information, visit the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website.

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Article Explores "The Dark Side of Inappropriate Drug Use in Nursing Homes"

A former CMS aide says the “risk of drug-induced harm to Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes is unacceptably high today” because pharmacists who recommend drugs to medical staff are often employed by long-term care pharmacies that sell drugs to the facility. The author, Lawrence Kocot, was a special assistant at CMS during the Bush administration’s implementation of Medicare Part D and is currently a health policy expert at the Brookings Institution.

In his article, "Uncomfortably Numb: The Dark Side of Inappropriate Drug Use in Nursing Homes," Kocot says, “While further study needs to be conducted to learn more about what is driving Medicare beneficiaries to consume higher volumes of more expensive drugs in nursing homes, financial incentives designed to drive drug utilization are a part of the story that cannot and should not be ignored any longer.” CMS has proposed requiring consultant pharmacists to be independent of long term care pharmacies and drug manufacturers.

Read the full article.

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Article Reveals "Big Payoff Pushing Patients into Hospice"

An article in the Washington Post says that hospice, “once chiefly a charitable cause, has become a growth industry” with 1.1 million patients and $14 billion in revenues. The Post investigation concluded that growth has been fueled by private investment groups’ creation of chains and questionable marketing and recruitment practices. The HHS Office of Inspector General (whose report on antipsychotic drugs helped instigate an effort to end consultant pharmacists’ financial ties to long term care pharmacies) is “investigating hospice marketing practices and financial relationships to nursing facilities,” including “paid incentives to medical directors for inappropriate referrals.”

Read the full article.

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About The Gazette

The Gazette is a weekly e-newsletter, published by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. If you do not wish to continue receiving this publication, please unsubscribe. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to swells@theconsumervoice.org. Copyright © 2011.

The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. We are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual. The Consumer Voice's mission is to represent consumers at the national level for quality long-term care, services and supports.

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