Nursing homes, hospices, and inpatient psych facilities are getting some long overdue attention and can expect to see pay bumps come Oct. 1, albeit slightly less than previously proposed by CMS.
The final rule finalizes a 2.2% increase in overall payments to skilled nursing facilities in fiscal 2021. CMS says this means payments will increase by $750 million in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Inside Health Policy.
For several months, long-term care facilities including skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities have strictly limited visitation to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among residents whose age and condition make them especially vulnerable to the illness.
While the limited visitation requirements have helped protect health and safety, it has impacted residents and their loved one’s ability to stay connected. Governor Doug Ducey recently announced the establishment of the Task Force On Long-Term Care. The task force will focus on developing metrics on how and when visitation within long-term care facilities can safely resume and what steps facilities must take to provide options for residents see their families, according to Signals AZ.
Governor Doug Ducey said,
Throughout this pandemic, we have focused on protecting those most at risk, especially our seniors and vulnerable adults.
At the end of March, Governor Ducey announced that Arizona received more than $5.3 million in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to help Arizona communities provide meals for older adults. The funding has supported both meal delivery programs and programs serving senior centers. In April, he signed an executive order allowing pharmacists to dispense emergency refills of maintenance medications for a 90-day supply and an additional 90-day supply if needed. This action allows elderly and at-risk Arizonans to refill a prescription while limiting their exposure to COVID-19. In May, he announced $300,000 in funding from the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund for organizations across the state that support senior citizens, the homebound, and those who are medically fragile. The governor has tried to help Arizona’s most vulnerable populations, yet certain minority groups are still suffering from COVID-19 at far higher rates.
The most vulnerable older adults and ethnic minorities have been hit hardest by COVID-19, which is due to issues related to the social determinants of health.
CMS released its first monthly data update, which provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population. This snapshot includes data for American Indian/Alaskan Native Medicare beneficiaries, and indicates that American Indian/Alaskan Native beneficiaries have the second highest rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 among racial/ethnic groups after African Americans. Hispanic beneficiaries had the third-highest rate of hospitalizations and second-highest rate of reported infections. In June, the Quechan and Cocopah Indian tribes in Yuma County reported 22% of tests in the county were returning positive, while 14% of tests were positive statewide. The updated data confirm that the COVID-19 public health emergency is disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, which is due to issues related to the social determinants of health, according to the release from CMS.
The most vulnerable older adults have been hit hardest by the coronavirus. COVID-19 hospitalization rates for beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (who often suffer from multiple chronic conditions and have low income) were nearly five times that of beneficiaries eligible for Medicare. All totaled, more than 160,800 Medicare beneficiaries were hospitalized for the illness in the roughly five-month time frame, with 549,414 COVID-19 infections reported, according to AARP.
Read the full article from Inside Health Policy
Read the full article from Signals AZ
Read the full article from CMS
Read the full article from AARP
Read the full article from Arizona Public Media