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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

August 6, 2013

Consumer Voice Submits Recommendations to Long-Term Care Commission on LTSS

On Friday, the Consumer Voice was pleased to submit our organization's recommendations to the Long Term Care Commission on ways to improve and strengthen the organization and provision of long-term services and supports in our nation, as well as recommendations on ways to enhance long-term care consumers'  rights and protections. These recommendations can be read here. For individuals or groups that would also like to submit feedback to the Commission, there is still time to do so. Instructions on submitting comments to the Commissioners can be found at the Long Term Care Commission's website.

The Commission held a full-day public hearing on Thursday, August 1st, in which the public and private funding sources of long-term services and supports were examined. Testimonies included analyses on Medicare and Medicaid's roles in long-term care, as well as the role of private long-term care insurance and ways to enhance consumer engagement in the private market. To view video and testimony from this hearing, go here. Two additional Commission hearings have since been scheduled for August 19th and August 29th, and we will be certain to provide our network with further information for these upcoming meetings as it becomes available.

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Consumer Voice Submits Comments to Consumer Product Safety Commission Regarding Bed Rails

On Monday, August 5th, Consumer Voice submitted comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on the petition our organization filed with the Consumer Federation of America, bed rail activist Gloria Black, and 60 other groups to the agency asking for mandatory safety standards for adult portable bed rails (or a ban of these products if they cannot be made safe). These final comments, which were endorsed by 16 national, state and local organizations, can be read here. We also facilitated the submission of comments from a number of individuals and state and national groups.

The CPSC received nearly 100 comments from the public on the petition, the majority of which were comments from individuals and organizations in our network. Consumer Voice would like to extend our gratitude to all that took the time to submit comments on this important matter. After reviewing comments received, the CPSC will then determine whether or not to initiate rulemaking on adult portable bed rails. Stay tuned for further information as we await the agency's decision.

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Florida State Ombudsman Leaves Amid Internal Investigation

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) has recently become aware that the Florida State Long-Term Care Ombudsman filed his retirement papers after being put on Administrative Leave. He had been placed on “indefinite” leave as the Department of Elder Affairs, which houses the Ombudsman Program, conducts an internal investigation into undisclosed allegations of wrongdoing. Similar articles have been posted in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and other media outlets covering the situation.  

These recent events, and the turmoil of the Florida ombudsman program of the past two years, are extremely unfortunate for nursing home residents and other consumers in the state.  The Consumer Voice remains very concerned by the lack of stability within Florida’s long-term care ombudsman program and calls on Governor Scott to take action quickly to ensure that all Floridians are afforded full support by the program.  Furthermore, as home to the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC), the Consumer Voice is ready to assist the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in any way possible.

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NORC is the National MS Society's "Nationwide Service Provider of the Month"

The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center was chosen from over 160 providers to be the National MS Society's "Nationwide Service Provider of the Month" for July.  The award is intended to show appreciation towards our national providers and ensure they receive the attention they deserve for serving clients affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).  For more information about the National MS Society, visit their website.

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OIG Scraps Audits of Nursing Homes' Abuse of Antipsychotic Drugs

The OIG announced that it does not plan to go forward with its investigation of nursing homes' abuse of antipsychotic drugs. In May 2011, Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson sharply criticized nursing homes for misusing potentially dangerous drugs to sedate troublesome patients.  But, citing major budget and staffing cuts, Levinson's investigative unit is scrapping a planned new audit to identify the problem nursing homes and the medicines being misused.  For more information, read the article.

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HHS Inspector General Releases Report on Medicare Observation Status Policy

An investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General found that Medicare patients' chances of being admitted to the hospital or kept for observation depend on what hospital they go to - even when their symptoms are the same.  The report, released last week, also urges Medicare officials to count those observation visits toward the three inpatient-day minimum required for nursing home coverage.  The report is based on 2012 Medicare hospital charges, and its findings underscore several years of complaints that the distinction between an inpatient and observation stay isn't always clear.  For more information, read the article in Kaiser Health News.

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CMS Issues Memo on Notification of Facility Closure

CMS issued a memo regarding Notification of Facility Closure: Revisions to Tags F203 and F204 and Issuance of New Tags F523 an F524 in the State Operations Manual (SOM), Appendix PP.  Any individual serving as the administrator of a skilled nursing facility, nursing facility or dually participating facility must provide written notification of an impending closure of a facility including the plan for relocation of residents at least 60 days prior to the impending closure.  CMS is providing advanced guidance regarding the federal requirements for Notification of Facility Closure.

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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 © 2013.

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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