June 2: Weekly Long-Term Care News and Updates
Lina Camacho • June 2, 2022
Inflation jumps 8.5% in a year for nursing goods and services, tripling the number of residents at risk of displacement
The risk of closure for skilled nursing facilities across the country is growing as rising inflation and increased labor costs multiply the pressure on providers, according to a new report just released by CliftonLarsenAllen (CLA) and the American Health Care Association (AHCA).
The findings from CLA show that general inflation for nursing home goods and services increased 8.5% between March 2021 and March 2022. In the last month alone, between February and March 2022, the inflation rate jumped 1.3%.
According to CLA, skilled nursing facilities are already struggling to remain profitable due to increasing patient acuity levels, declining reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid programs, and other factors such as a shortage of long-term care clinicians. Closing or selling assets may be their only option in some cases.
Comments on proposed pay rule pile up as deadline approaches
CMS may be planning to cut the Patient-Driven Payment Model—but providers are pushing back.
More than 2,000 providers have weighed in on the proposed 4.6% cut, many of them urging CMS to shift its strategy. The agency had found that spending under the new model increased by $1.7 billion when compared to what it would have paid SNFs under the old Resource Utilization Group model. Providers, however, have noted that much of that additional spending could be connected to COVID-19, which started just months after the payment model transition.
The question is whether the agency will heed the warnings of the provider community, of which members are calling for a phase-in of cuts over the course of the next three years. According to several nursing home operators, they have insisted that their COVID-infected patients combined with lower occupancy rates mean residents they currently have are sicker than in pre-PDPM years.
Nursing Homes See Movement on Staffing Agency Reform
The staffing agency industry has long been unregulated, but as the country continues to grapple with the Covid pandemic and nursing home shortages, there have been calls from both operators and state associations representing them for more regulation. Operators argue that staffing agencies are charging record-breaking prices for much-needed staff, including nurses and nurses’ aides, while the state associations that represent them contend that regulation is necessary to ensure that these agencies do not harm the quality of care.
In Minnesota, the only state with existing regulations on staffing agencies, lawmakers have proposed new measures to curb price gouging amid a historic workforce shortage exacerbated by the pandemic. Operators and state associations have also pressed lawmakers in six other states — Maryland, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, New York, and Pennsylvania — to pass legislation on this unregulated industry.
Even though state surveyors responsible for checking whether staffing agencies are following these laws have been busy with Covid-related issues, they have not dissuaded non-regulated states from introducing bills aimed at discouraging price gouging, according to Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota.
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