Post-Acute Care & Nursing Facilities

On March 20, 2020, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued Provider Letter 20-23, providing clear guidance to Texas’ assisted living communities on how to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Finding that; “…COVID-19 presents a significant health and safety risk to ALF residents” and that “the best method of protecting [residents] from infection is to keep the infection out of the facility”, the provider letter adopts guidelines that are similar to those put in place several days ago for nursing facilities. Significantly, the letter determines that; “[a] resident’s right to visitation can be restricted in order to protect the health and safety of residents”.
Continue Reading Texas Health and Human Services Commission releases COVID-19 Guidance to Assisted Living Facilities

These are extraordinary times. COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, has disrupted the life of every American and every business. Hospices are no exception. In fact, they are on the frontlines, responsible for providing care to the elderly, a population extremely susceptible to COVID-19. The Husch Blackwell Hospice Team is fundamentally a group of problem solvers,

The CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Wednesday, March 18, 2020, reiterated that both residents and the workforce of long term care facilities remain most vulnerable to the exposure and spread of COVID-19.  According to the Report, “[s]ubstantial morbidity and mortality might be averted if all long-term care facilities take steps now to prevent exposure of their residents to COVID-19. The underlying health conditions and advanced age of many long-term care facility residents and the shared location of patients in one facility places these persons at risk for severe morbidity and death.”

Continue Reading COVID-19 FAQs for Assisted Living Communities

In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic declaration, hospice providers are faced with the difficult conundrum of ensuring the continuity of care for their vulnerable patients while attempting to comply with the recent CDC and CMS guidelines regarding post-acute care facilities’ lock-down procedures. There is no question the intentions of long-term care facilities are well-meaning in an effort to protect its residents who are most susceptible to COVID-19 complications.[1] However, these precautionary measures put residents receiving hospice services at risk of missing supportive treatment and important care planning.  The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) derived its skilled nursing facility visitor restriction recommendations from the CMS revised guidance issued March 9, 2020, and hospice providers should take note of these recommendations to ensure they are not prohibited from caring for their patients.
Continue Reading Guidance for Hospice Providers to Address the Visitors Ban Imposed by Nursing Facilities to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

Courts recognize the complication that exists when determining what constitutes actionable harassment where a healthcare employee is a caretaker for a patient with diminished capacity. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reviewed this issue in a Title VII case that highlights the risks posed to employers in the healthcare and social assistance industries by patient harassment and violence: Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, LLC, No. 17-60072 (February 6, 2019). In Gardner, the Fifth Circuit explained the risks to healthcare employers when it reversed summary judgment on a nurse assistant’s claim for hostile work environment and retaliation, holding that a genuine dispute of material fact existed as to whether an assisted living facility took reasonable precautions to prevent sexual harassment and physical violence by a resident.

Background

Gardner was a Certified Nursing Assistant employed at the Plaza Community Living Center, an assisted living facility, and “often worked with patients who were either physically combative or sexually aggressive.” Gardner had been assigned to work with a patient who had been diagnosed with multiple “physical and mental illnesses,” and had a reputation for groping female employees, as well as a history of violent and sexual behavior toward both patients and staff at the facility. Gardner alleged that she put up with propositioning and sexual assault by the patient on a regular basis, but that when she complained to the administrator at the facility, she was told to “put [her] big girl panties on and go back to work.”
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Rules Harassment By Patients In The Healthcare Industry Deserves Special Consideration, But Employer May Still Be Liable

By now, everyone operating a skilled nursing facility knows about CMS’ 2016 overhaul of the Requirements for Participation for Long-Term Care Facilities (“RoPs”).  The final rule amending the RoPs was published on October 4, 2016.  See 81 Fed. Reg. 68688 (Oct. 4, 2016).  Many of the changes made by CMS do not impose new requirements on facilities, but instead clarify existing requirements.  While CMS has been implementing the various changes in three phases over a three-year period, facilities should by now have implemented or taken steps to implement all of the new requirements.

We have reviewed the new RoPs and guidance documents issued by CMS to determine how the changes impact nursing facility admission agreements.  There were changes or clarifications to a number of subjects that impact such agreements, including: resident discharge requirements, resident representative requirements, selection of attending physicians and other health care providers, room transfer and roommate requirements, visitation rights, facility liability for resident property, bed hold policies, etcetera.
Continue Reading Nursing Facilities Need To Update Their Admission Agreements

On November 2, 2017, the House Ways and Means Committee released draft text of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, proposing significant changes to the Internal Revenue Code. Of particular concern to private hospitals, healthcare systems and educational institutions operating as 501(c)(3) entities is the bill’s proposed termination of the tax exemption available

flag_160540827This is the sixth article in our series on the effect of a “slow repeal” of the ACA. This week’s discussion focuses on the potential impact on post-acute care providers.

The term “post-acute care provider” encompasses a large and diverse group of healthcare providers that includes nursing facilities, home health agencies, hospice agencies and assisted living communities. While each group has its own very unique industry characteristics, they all have at least one thing in common: none of them rely, to any great extent, on private insurance as a form of payment. This is because the vast majority of the patients served by post-acute care providers are older than 65 and, accordingly, are covered by Medicare. So, any repeal efforts relating to the private insurance exchanges that expanded healthcare coverage for more than 30 million Americans will have minimal impact on post-acute care providers. Instead, the key issue facing post-acute care providers relating to the slow repeal of the ACA is the threatened conversion of Medicaid into a block grant program.
Continue Reading Slow Repeal of the ACA and Its Impact on Post-Acute Care Providers

abaEmerging Issues in Healthcare Law is coming to the Big Easy. The American Bar Association’s 18th annual conference is slated for New Orleans March 8-11.

Husch Blackwell is a platinum sponsor of this event featuring the most emergent topics facing the healthcare bar. As the industry faces changes and continues to grow under healthcare reform and enforcement, this conference allows attendees a perfect opportunity to stay ahead of the developments.
Continue Reading Don’t miss Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law

White gift box wrapped with vibrant red bow and ribbon isolatedOn Dec. 7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an update to its 2000 policy regarding gifts of nominal value given to a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary. The update increases the nominal value of gifts given to a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary to $15 per occurrence and $75 in the aggregate for a year (the previous limit was $10 per occurrence and $50 in the aggregate). If a gift complies with these limits, the arrangement does not need to fit within a “safe harbor” to 42 U.S.C. §1320a-7b(b) (the federal anti-kickback statute).
Continue Reading OIG updates policy regarding gifts of nominal value