CMS Seminar and Other Recent News

We hope everyone had a great 4th of July holiday  This is our 2nd blog post providing news and updates on long term care and the law.  After this post, future posts will continue to be available at our website, but receipt via email will be limited to those who have subscribed, sparing those who are not interested.  Please do be sure to subscribe on our website if you are interested in continuing to receive our blog updates and please let us know if you are having any difficulty subscribing.  A few recent developments we’d like to bring to your attention:

CMS will be conducting a seminar tomorrow, Wednesday July 11th from 1-2 PM regarding its new data element library (described in our prior post).  If you are interested in learning more about this program, the data available and how you might be able to benefit by utilizing the data, consider participating by registering here:

The New York Times published an article this weekend focusing on staffing concerns by CMS at skilled nursing facilities, and highlighting one upstate New York facility in its story.  The story asserted that staffing levels are inadequate, but more so asserted that staffing measures are often flawed and do not accurately reflect true staffing levels.  This concern seems to be a focus of investigators around the country and in particular in New York, where the State Attorney General’s office has recently been subpoenaing staffing records for a number of facilities.  Please make sure you are aware of and complying with all staffing and record keeping requirements.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Janus v. AFSCME decision barred public-sector labor unions from forcing non-members to pay agency fees.  This makes public-sector union membership an opt-in rather than opt-out choice for new members, likely reducing the number of dues-paying members going forward.  It remains to be seen how this decision will impact the operation and bargaining strength of unions in general going forward, and in particular how that will impact the health care industry, but it seems inevitable this will result in a decline in revenue, membership and political strength of many unions.  The impact may be mitigated in New York where law requires payment of dues for an employee to receive the full gamut of benefits rather than being able to “free-ride” off the benefits of union members.

CMS recently proposed a rule that would result in a 2.1% or $400 million increase in Medicare payments for home health agencies.  In a continued push toward “value-based care”, the rule proposes a new payment system, a “Patient-Driven Groupings Model” that will no longer count therapy sessions and will also now pay for 30-day periods of care.  Also included in the rule is a proposal to pay home health agencies for remote patient monitoring through digital tools.   If finalized, the rule will be effective January  1, 2020.

The New York legislature recently passed a number of bills with the potential to impact long term care, still awaiting action from the Governor.  Perhaps most significant is a bill to permit the delivery of hospice services in an assisted living program, avoiding the current requirement that residents transfer to a nursing home or otherwise to receive hospice care.