In The News

New Guidance to State Medicaid Directors Regarding 10% FMAP Increase for HCBS

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) [issued] guidance on how states can receive enhanced funding, provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), to increase access to home and community based services (HCBS) for Medicaid beneficiaries. These benefits provide critical services to millions of older adults and individuals with disabilities, allowing them to receive health services in their homes and communities, rather than in nursing homes and other institutions. Today's guidance is a key tool to assist states in leveraging federal resources to increase health equity in Medicaid beneficiaries' access to HCBS, positive health outcomes, and community integration.

As the pandemic continues to impact health care, it is important that Medicaid beneficiaries with long-term services and supports needs receive the assistance required to live in the setting of their choice, including their own home. The additional federal funding made available under the American Rescue Plan allows states to tailor HCBS enhancements based on the needs and priorities of its residents, while protecting and strengthening the HCBS workforce, safeguarding financial stability for HCBS providers, and accelerating long-term services and supports reform and innovation.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will hold a National Stakeholder Call regarding the new guidance on how states can receive enhanced funding to increase access to home and community based services (HCBS) for Medicaid beneficiaries on Monday, May 17, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. MT

Read full guidelines HERE

Register in advance for the call HERE


CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Can Forego Masks, Social Distancing

Inside Health Policy
By Beth Wang / May 13, 2021 at 3:20 PM
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday (May 13) announced that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. However, people who are traveling on buses, trains, airplanes and other forms of public transportation must still wear masks.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the agency updated its guidance in response to data that have emerged over the last two weeks showing that COVID-19 cases in the United States have dropped by a third. Vaccines have also become increasingly available over the past two weeks.
Real-world data also have shown that the vaccines are highly effective against COVID-19, Walensky said. She cited a study from Israel that showed the vaccines were 97% effective against symptomatic infection and 86% effective against asymptomatic infection in over 5,000 health care workers. Another study of more than 4,000 health care workers in the United States showed that the vaccines were 90% effective against any infection. A third study of 24 hospitals showed that the vaccines are 94% effective against hospitalizations from COVID-19.
Data also show the vaccines are effective against the variants circulating in the United States, according to Walensky. A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the Pfizer vaccine is about 90% and 75% effective against infection from the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants, respectively, circulating in the United States. Additional studies confirm that the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are also effective against circulating variants, Walensky added.
Additionally, Walensky said, data have shown that those who get infected after being vaccinated are more likely to have a lower viral load and a shorter duration of infection. They’re also less likely to transmit the virus to others.
We have all longed for this moment where we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Walensky said. “Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.”
Masks will still be required on public transportation and in public transportation stations, including airports. And health care facilities will continue to follow their specific infection control guidelines, Walensky said.
The CDC director cautioned that if things get worse, CDC will change its recommendations.
“This past year has shown us that this virus can be unpredictable. So if things get worse, there is always a chance we may need to make changes to these recommendations. But we know that the more people are vaccinated, the less cases we will have and the less chance of a new spike or additional variants emerging,” Walensky said.
She added that anyone who does develop symptoms should still wear a mask and get tested right away. Unvaccinated people should also continue to wear masks. -- Beth Wang ([email protected])

[Please note that, local, State, and private business mask and social distancing guidelines still prevail]




How Home Care Options Are Evolving in a Post-Pandemic World

The most recent episode of the Help Choose Home podcast features NAHC President Bill Dombi, Esq. With nearly 40 years of experience in health care law and policy, Bill has been heavily involved with health care and hospice policy at the local and national level since 1975. He has advocated for home health care reform under numerous presidential administrations.

In this episode he will discuss:

  • · Ways consumers can support congressional initiatives to provide more home care options.
  • · The future of care at home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • · The history of how the initiative to make home care a more accessible option has bridged political divides and united the country.

After listening to this episode, you'll come away with a greater understanding of the way technological advancements are making care at home a more viable option for countless Americans. You'll also gain a deeper understanding of the history of home care legislation and learn how to get involved in new initiatives to bring health care home.

Listen to the episode hereYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Home Health LUPA Challenges Continue as Pandemic Subsides

Home Health Care News 
By Andrew Donlan | May 3, 2021
The frequency of low-utilization payment adjustments (LUPAs) increased for many home health providers in the first year of the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), which coincided with the COVID-19 crisis.
In part, that’s because there are far more LUPA variables to keep track of under the new payment model. At times, increases were also linked to home health patients unexpectedly declining scheduled visits because of COVID-19 fears.
To some, avoiding LUPAs by hitting a certain visit threshold may seem like a relatively simple process. But home health providers in the weeds are telling a different story...

Read Full Story.


Senior Care Innovator Bill Thomas: America Needs to Change How It Talks About 'Home Care'

| May 4, 2021

"As we emerge from this pandemic, it seems like the term 'home care' has become a bit dated," Dr. Bill Thomas recently told HHCN. "That’s not our future." 

Like a shock to the system, the COVID-19 emergency has been a catalyst for major change across the health care continuum. Home-based care providers, in particular, have been forced to evolve in a multitude of ways.

As an industry thought leader and expert in aging, Dr. Bill Thomas has always been at the forefront of home care innovation. In the past year, Thomas has been especially active in what he calls the great migration of facility-based health care to a “21st century home- and community-based system.”

Thomas is the co-founder of Minka, a company that makes 3D-printed tiny homes and communities. He also serves as the independence officer for Lifesprk, a Minnesota-based home-based care provider that has made a name for itself with its holistic approach to care.

HHCN: What does delivering care in the 21st century mean to you? And how does your work in the past year reflect that?

Thomas: The work I’ve been doing has been about building exit ramps, pathways that can help us change from the health care system we have to the health care system we need. That maybe sounds big and vague, but it’s the thing that drives me —developing an alternative delivery system. All the work I’m doing ties back to that...


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