LTC Pharmacy News
July 2020
NoAugust Newsletter
August is typically a slow month in the health policy world. We expect a SNF PPS final rule and perhaps some Part D updates and will our best to report on those in a timely manner. 

We will be spending part of August finishing up our new website and moving our hosting to a different provider. We look forward to a cleaner look and new features.

Thanks for being a subscriber. See you again soon.
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Federal Updates
LTC Pharmacy Definition Legislation Introduced
The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to create a federal definition of long-term care pharmacy.

The trade group hailed the introduction as a necessary step in the equal application of federal policies across all federal agencies.

CMS Focuses on Helping Nursing Homes in COVID-19 Hotspots
CMS announced that it will be sending Quality Improvement Organizations to provide support for nursing homes that are located in COVID-19 hotspots and have a history of compliance issues with infection control.

The QIOs will provide support to the designated facilities to help them improve their programs to increase safety.

Nursing Home COVID-19 Aid Increased by $5 Billion
The Trump Administration announced additional resources devoted to nursing homes in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. CMS announced that an additional $5 billion would be made available to Medicare-certified nursing homes, bringing the total aid to $10 billion. 

The Administration will continue to devote resources to testing and compliance assistance to facilities located in the hotspot areas.

CMSVideo: Five Things About Nursing Homes
CMS Administrator Seema Verma hosts a video detailing the five things CMS is doing to stop the spread of Coronavirus in nursing homes.

Nursing Homes to be Given Point-of-Care COVID-19 Tests
CMS has announced an Administration initiative to provide free COVID-19 test kits for nursing homes. The program will give priority to nursing homes in hotspot regions, where the virus is spreading most rapidly.

CMS Sending More Help to Nursing Homes 
CMS announced that it will begin deploying quality improvement organizations (QIOs) to nursing homes in designated virus hotspot areas. The QIOs will assist nursing homes in improving infection control practices and improve quality of care.

Characteristics of COVID-19 Deaths 
The Centers for Disease Control has published a survey of the characteristics of people who died from the coronavirus between mid-February and mid-May of this year. The survey validates the fact that most fatalities were people 65 years of age and older, and looks at demographic differences between racial and ethnic minorities.

GAO Reports on Medicaid
In this report, GAO gives an overview of some of the creative methods states have used to minimize their contributions to the Medicaid program and shifting payment responsibility to the federal government. GAO believes these methods have the effect of negatively affecting the sustainability of Medicaid.

MedPAC 2020 Data Book on Health Spending and Medicare
MedPAC announces the release of its 2020 data book on health care spending and the Medicare program. The publication provides data on Medicare spending, demographics of the Medicare population, beneficiaries’ access to care, and quality of care in the program, among other information.
NCHS Releases Reports on Senior Financial Burden
If you're interested in the financial impact of seniors and their families the National Center for Health Statistics has released a publication that examines the financial implications of having an older person in the family. Selected burdens of Health Care Among Families with Older Adults by Family Composition: United States: 2017-2018.
ACL Publishes 2019 Profile of Older Americans
The Profile of Older Americans is an annual summary of the available statistics related to the older population in the United States. Principal sources of data are the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
It includes key topic areas such as income, living arrangements, education, health, and caregiving. The 2019 Profile includes special sections on obesity as well as aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities.

Everything Else
Nursing Homes: The Current Environment
The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) interviews executives from two major nursing home chains to get a closer look at life in the middle of the COVID-19 storm. 

LTC Pharmacy Trade Association Requests Federal Relief
The Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC) sent a letter to Congress pointing out the impact of the COVID-19 infections of LTC pharmacies. The letter points out the impact of the virus on industry revenues and increased costs for personal protective equipment.

The association requests $350 million in relief for the industry,

McKinsey & Company Introduce COVID-19 Tracker
Consulting firm McKinsey & Company rolled out a comprehensive tool for tracking COVID-19. The coverage is quite comprehensive, with tracking for county-level COVID-19 infection rates, economic impact by demographic group, and impact of COVID-19 on travel and movement, among many other tracking data points.

Protecting Nursing Home Residents has Gone too Far
Nursing home residents have been locked down and under effective quarantine for more than four months. The concept was to protect them, as much as possible, from the ravages of coronavirus. In this article the author suggests that many residents, aware of the risks, are willing to forego these protections in order to experience the human contact that has become absent.

Hospital Charges: Medicare vs. Commercial Payers
Hospital associations have complained for years that Medicare payments are among the lowest in the marketplace.

The folks at Kaiser Family Foundation did a review and now you have the opportunity to compare Medicare hospital payment for 10 different services.
Looks like they weren't kidding.

Telehealth in SNFs Here to Stay?
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis telehealth was not widely used in the nursing home industry. Since then, CMS has reduced regulation and streamlined processes to make telehealth a very useful tool in the long-term care setting.

After the crisis abates, industry leaders believe telehealth will remain in the nursing home toolbox.

Has the Time Come to Toss the Fax Machine?
Britain's National Health Service set a goal back in 2018 to get rid of its fax machines by 2020. Well, it's 2020 and the NHS and most other healthcare organizations, still have fax machines. Not as many, but the relic of the 1980s continues to show up in healthcare organizations.

Why is it so hard to get rid of them and what's at stake if we don't?

Best Small Towns in Every State
COVID-19 seems to have taken some of the luster off city living.
What about small towns? Did you grow up in one? Do you live in one?

Take a tour of what Thrillist considers the best small towns in every state in the US.