In The News

The Top 10 Home Health Care News Stories Of 2022

Home Health Care News | By Andrew Donlan
 
Despite the hope that COVID-19’s effect on the world would wane in 2022, the year started with the highest case counts that home health and home care providers had seen, both among patients and staff. 
 
But as Home Health Care News’ top stories of the year suggest, COVID-19 did not define what went on in home-based care in 2022. Instead, a trend that had been bubbling under the surface for years – perhaps even prior to the pandemic – came to fruition. Some of the largest companies in the country invested in home health care. 
 
Yet, all the while, the home-based care world faced existential threats: payment rate cuts in home health care, plus cost of care rising in home care. 
 
Reflect back on this year in home-based care by revisiting 10 of HHCN’s most widely read stories.

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White House to Resume Program Sending Free COVID Tests by Mail

The Hill | By Nathaniel Weixel

The Biden administration is restarting its program to send free COVID-19 testing kits through the U.S. Mail to any households that request them.

The White House on Thursday said households can begin ordering a total of four at-home tests from the COVIDTests.gov website to be mailed directly to them for free, regardless of how many tests they have ordered previously. 

The tests will start to ship out the week of Dec. 19th, according to an administration official.

The White House first began sending out the kits last January during the peak of the omicron wave, but the program was halted at the beginning of September due to a lack of funding from Congress. Administration officials at the time indicated they were concerned the stockpile of tests would run out before the winter.

By the time the program ended, the federal government distributed an estimated 600 million tests.

Now, the program is restarting as part of the White House’s broader winter preparedness plan. According to a senior administration official, leftover American Rescue Plan money is being repurposed to purchase and distribute additional tests.

The administration has requested about $10 billion in COVID response money from Congress as part of the year-end government funding bill, but the prospects of it being included amid major GOP opposition are slim.

Public health officials have repeatedly warned that the U.S. will likely face another wave of COVID-19 infections as the weather gets colder and people travel and gather for the holidays. White House officials have said they are prepared for any potential surge in infections, noting that widespread vaccinations have made the virus far less disruptive than it was two years ago.

But it doesn’t seem to be convincing a checked-out public to get vaccinated. New COVID-19 booster shot uptake remains extremely low heading into the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, with fewer than 14 percent of the eligible population receiving a shot. In the meantime, infections, hospitalizations and deaths are all rising, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Aside from mail-order tests, the winter plan will include distributing tests and masks at more locations, the White House said. 

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities will also see additional resources and flexibilities to help boost lagging vaccination rates, including allowing nursing home staff to administer shots. 

 

IF I WERE -- a Funeral Home, a Hospice Worker, an Attorney, a Physician, a Social Worker, a Nursing Facility...

Barbara Karnes

IF I WERE ——a funeral home I would give end of life education materials to all who are making prearrangement funerals plans. It is an opportunity to provide education in an area that will be needed someday.

IF I WERE ——an attorney I would give my clients educational material on writing advance directives, so they can make informed choices.

IF I WERE —— an employee of a doctor's office I would have in the reception area end of life information handouts as reading materials.

IF I WERE  —— a physician I would have end of life materials to give to my patients that were approaching the end of their life. Patients I was having a difficult time fixing. It is part of my healing skills to guide them through their last breath.

IF I WERE —— a social worker I would have on hand end of life education materials to offer to clients who are living with life threatening situations. Family members who are struggling with the challenge of caring for an elderly family member will also benefit greatly from the knowledge of what lies ahead.

IF I WERE ——an administrator of a nursing facility I would educate ALL of my staff in how to provide end of life care, in recognizing the signs of approaching death, and in the dynamics of dying to ensure that they have the tools to provide compassionate, knowledgable care.

Dying isn't like it is in the movies. We don't know what it is like to die from disease or old age and while everyone is going to do it, most people are not prepared with the knowledge of what will happen and particularly what to do while dying is happening.

IF I WERE ——a hired caregiver I would educate myself in the specialty of end of life care so that I can be a resourceful presence.

IF I WERE ——a hospice worker I would educate, support, and guide people who can't be fixed (and their families) toward a gentle death.

IF I WERE  —— an end of life doula I would be a consistent presence for those living with a life threatening illness. I would make every effort to be present in the hours to moments before death. I do not want them or their family to be alone.

IF I WERE —— an end of life educator I would be that voice saying "Pay attention! Everyone needs this knowledge. Let me help you learn before you need it and be there when you do need it. Let me comfort you with knowledge, gentleness, and a presence as you travel this very normal part of life.”

 

Just Released: 2022 RIHC Home Health Chartbook, Co-Sponsored by NAHC

The Institute is excited to announce the 2022 RIHC Home Health Chartbook is now available online! 

Released annually, the Chartbook, co-sponsored by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), and compiled and charted by KNG Health Consulting LLC, summarizes and analyzes statistics on home health from a range of government sources. The Chartbook offers a glimpse of home health patients, the home health workforce, organizational trends, and the economic contribution of home health agencies. The Chartbook includes updated statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Medicare Cost Reports, Home Health Compare, Medicare fee-for-service claims, the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, and other data from CMS. 

This year's Chartbook features data from 2021 and includes clinical profiles of patients, workforce trends, expanded data on Medicare Advantage patients, and more. 

 

NAHC President Bill Dombi Shares 2023 Industry Outlook

January 18, 2023 (12:00 noon MT)

Mark your calendar now to hear NAHC President Bill Dombi share expert insight on the big issues impacting home health and hospice in 2023.

Joined by Mike Dordick, Netsmart SVP of Post-Acute Strategy, these two healthcare leaders will answer your questions and talk about what you need to know as you prepare for 2023.

If you can't make it, register anyway and we'll send you the recording.

Register Now

 
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