In The News

HHVBP Gives Providers More Support with Payers, But May Shrink Business Margins

Home Health Care News / By Andrew Donlan
Last Thursday, I moderated three panels at Home Health Care News’ VALUE event, sat in on another three and talked to dozens of attendees, both on the record and off.
There were plenty of highlights and insights that came from those conversations.
And while everyone seemed to not only have a good time, but also a productive one, my feeling is that the takeaways varied considerably from person to person.
Of course, some of that had to do with the diversified groups of providers involved. But mainly, it had to do with the overarching takeaway I had from our event: that most everyone in home-based care has a different definition of value-based care, and most everyone will take a different path to get there.
So while a shift toward value may be inevitable, there will be seemingly countless roads that lead there – not just one.
In this week’s exclusive, members-only HHCN+ Update, I explore what those different roads and definitions of value-based care may be, and also empty my notebook full of other learnings from the event.

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Older Adults Sacrificing Basic Needs Due to Healthcare Costs

Gallup / By Nicole Willcoxon, PH.D. 

Editor's Note: The research detailed below was conducted in partnership with West Health, a family of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations focused on lowering healthcare costs for seniors.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The health problems Americans start facing when they reach 50 years of age are compounded when the high cost of healthcare prevents them from seeking treatment, taking their prescriptions or leading an otherwise healthy lifestyle. A survey of U.S. adults conducted by West Health and Gallup explored the various ways in which healthcare costs are affecting Americans aged 50 and older today.

The study shows that at least two-thirds of older Americans consider healthcare costs to be at least a minor financial burden. When looking at inability to pay for care, four in 10 report they are concerned; smaller but notable percentages are not seeking treatment, are skipping prescribed medicine or cutting back on basic needs such as food and utilities to pay for healthcare. These problems are generally worse for adults aged 50 to 64, as most do not yet qualify for Medicare, but they also affect those 65 and older.

Older Americans at Risk Due to Cost of Healthcare

More than a third of adults 65 and older (37%) are concerned they will not be able to pay for needed healthcare services in the next year, according to the most recent West Health-Gallup survey. The situation is even worse for older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare, with nearly half (45%) of adults aged 50 to 64 reporting the same concern level. This puts nearly 50 million adults aged 50 and older at risk for more severe illness and even death due to the cost of healthcare.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data show that out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for adults 65 and older rose 41% from 2009 to 2019; out-of-pocket expenses take up a greater proportion of individuals' expenditures as they age, because of an increase in demand for health services and the reality that Medicare does not cover all health expenses. People 65 and older spend nearly twice as much of their total expenditures on healthcare costs when compared with the general population, even with 94% in this age group being covered by Medicare.

As costs continue to climb over the next decade, the number of Americans 65 and older will also rise, by a rate of about 10,000 people per day, according to the U.S. Census. This rapidly growing group of older Americans -- which those currently 50-64 and aging into Medicare are entering -- is already saying healthcare costs are a financial burden (24% of those 50-64 call it a major burden; 48%, a minor burden). For substantial proportions of older Americans, this burden results in sacrificing basic needs to pay for healthcare -- about one in four adults 65 and older and three in 10 aged 50-64 cut back on food, utilities, clothing or medication due to healthcare costs. This hardship is experienced to a greater degree by older women and Black Americans.

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Employee Retention Credit

If your business has not already looked at the Employee Retention Credit, a refundable credit that businesses can claim on qualified wages and certain health insurance costs, don't wait any longer. 

The ERC can be a complex credit, especially if you want to get all that you can out of it, but there are a number of businesses structured to help. HHAC does not endorse any particular tax consulting or service group, but we have been approached by several re: the ERC.

Many of the businesses will charge 10% - 20% to assist you with the credit, but we have found a business, roundpeg (affiliated with Box Financial), that only charges 6% of monies that are actually recovered (they do not charge their fee until you obtain the credit). Plus, they do a free analysis of your situation. Contact Kris Sanford at [email protected] or m: 801-678-3635. 

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) also recently announced a partnership with ERC Today (see NAHC members receive a 20% discount on the companies normal fees - between 7.5% and 15%. 




Providers Push Feds for More Support in Hiring Foreign Workers Amid Workforce Crisis

McKnight’s Long Term Care News / By Danielle Brown
Amid an ongoing push for legislative fixes that could bring more immigrants into the healthcare workforce, the nation’s two largest nursing home associations are pursuing a regulatory course too.  
Representatives with the American Health Care Association and LeadingAge on Tuesday met with the Department of Labor in an effort to get the agency to reconsider its denial to speed up the prevailing wage determination process for foreign-born registered nurses.
The prevailing wage rate is the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in an area of intended employment. Physical therapists and RNs are “Schedule A” occupations — meaning there aren’t a sufficient number of US workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to fill them. 
Employers who want to hire a person for these jobs aren’t required to conduct a test of the labor market or apply for a permanent labor certification with the labor department. They instead must apply for “Schedule A” designation by submitting an application for permanent labor certification.
The groups had called on the labor department to create a streamlined category for “Schedule A” instead of lumping all of the cases together with those from a permanent labor certification program, according to Andrea Price-Carter, LeadingAge’s director of workforce and technology policy. 
Providers have cited the occupancy shortage among RNs as to why a quicker process was needed in order to help solve the ongoing workforce crisis.
The groups specifically asked if regulatory action could be used to address the issue and the agency agreed that a regulatory process could be put in place but didn’t commit to making changes, Price-Carter said. 
“DOL also shared how much they appreciated the opportunity to hear about these issues in greater detail, and highlighted the Office of Foreign Labor Certification is investing additional staff to address the increase in demand for prevailing wage determinations,” Price-Carter said.

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Baby Formula Production Halted at Abbott’s Michigan Plant Due to Flooding After Severe Storms

Fox Business / By Ken Martin

The Abbott Laboratories plant in Michigan, which was at the center of the nation's baby formula crisis, has stopped production again.

Production of its EleCare specialty formula was stopped after severe storms in southwestern Michigan flooded areas of its Sturgis, Michigan plant.

This is the same plant that forced Abbott to issue a recall of some of its formulas in February due to contamination issues.

The closure of the Sturgis facility, the largest in the U.S. and source of leading brands like Similac, exacerbated the industry-wide baby formula shortage. For several months, parents and caregivers have been scrambling as shelves increasingly become more barren. Meanwhile, retailers were forced to put purchasing limits on the product to try and curtail stockpiling.

The company, which has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said the incident will likely delay production and distribution of the infant formula for a few weeks.

"Abbott has ample existing supply of EleCare and most of its specialty and metabolic formulas to meet needs for these products until new product is available," according a statement.

"Once the plant is re-sanitized and production resumes, we will again begin EleCare production, followed by specialty and metabolic formulas. In parallel, we will work to restart Similac production at the plant as soon as possible," the statement continued.

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