Latest Morning Briefing Stories
The lawyer for the suspended superintendent Bennett Walk released emails showing he regularly updated them about the outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and asked for help. News on nursing homes is from Nevada, as well.
The industry is vigorously seeking protection from lawsuits that will likely stem from the wave of deaths in nursing homes across the country. But advocates urge lawmakers not to protect nursing homes were neglect and understaffing were big problems even before the pandemic. In other news: how warnings about overrun hospitals put nursing home patients at risk; the White House fails to meet its goal on nursing home testing; a veterans’ home that had chronic issues to begin with; and a national reckoning.
The Associated Press reports on troublesome efforts undertaken for a while in New York where recovering patients were sent to nursing homes, places that even Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “optimum feeding grounds for the virus.” Other nursing home developments include CMS’ new policy for recording deaths as well as reporting from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts.
The GAO says deficiencies in nursing homes included inadequate hand hygiene among staff or the lack of preventive protocols during disease outbreaks. News on nursing homes looks at overhauling the industry, COVID’s racial divide, New Jersey’s share of the blame for deaths, Arkansas’ tracing plans and painful, botched testing in Minnesota, as well.
Opinion writers weigh in on these pandemic topics and others.
Stat spoke with experts about the potential lasting changes the pandemic could bring to the health industry. Meanwhile, public health experts worry about underfunded community health systems in the midst of the crisis.
The Trump administration’s guidelines urge state and local officials to refrain from allowing virtually all visitors into nursing homes or other senior care facilities until several conditions are met, including that all residents and staff test negative for the coronavirus for at least 28 days. Other news on nursing homes in Canada, Louisiana, California and Nevada is reported.
Advocates say the data is long overdue. “The lid is about to blow off,” said Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, a national watchdog. Other news on nursing homes is reported from Texas, Virginia, Washington, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Louisiana.
Before the pandemic, hospitals relied on this strategy to make money: provide surgeries, scans and other well-reimbursed services to privately insured patients, whose plans pay higher prices than public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Then the pandemic turned the world upside down. In other news on hospitals and costs: rural care deserts, liability protections and payment models.
Medicare proposed a bump to inpatient hospital services payments, but there are also parts of the rule that aren’t sitting well with providers.
When asked why testing wasn’t ordered at the facilities where about a third of all deaths have occurred, President Donald Trump said “I would certainly consider that. I will mandate it if you’d like.” Nursing home news is from New Jersey, California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and California.
A large share of coronavirus deaths have been in nursing homes. “There’s a risk and a liability when we reopen, no matter how we craft it,” said Kathryn Hyer, a professor at the University of South Florida. “It’s going to be very difficult.” Nursing home news is reported from New York, Maryland, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, as well.
The Trump administration announced in April that it would start collecting data on outbreaks and deaths at long-term care facilities. But there is still no federal count and the information is not expected to be made public for weeks. “There’s no way to actually get ahead of this if we don’t have any data — it tells us where we have a problem. We know nothing about these facilities in terms of their personal protective equipment or in terms of their staffing or their infection control capability,” David Grabowski, a professor of health policy at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. The lag in data collection is just one of a number of bottlenecks in federal effort to slow the virus’ deadly spread in nursing homes across the U.S. News from senior facilities in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana and Maine is also reported.
The coronavirus death toll exceeds 11,000 in nursing homes, which say the requested money would be used for protective equipment, hazard pay and lost revenue. News on the industry also reports on liability protections, a behind-the-scenes look at how infection spread in Maryland facilities, a lawsuit in Arizona to reveal data, a Massachusetts law shielding facilities, one family’s struggle for information, higher wages promised in Illinois and Louisiana’s changing efforts to name facilities with outbreaks, as well.
Meanwhile, patient advocates say legal liability is the last safety net to keep facilities accountable. “If you take the power of suing away from the families, then anything goes,” said Stella Kazantzas, whose husband is among the more than 20,000 patients who have died in nursing homes since the outbreak. In other news on senior facilities: advocates push for a stronger federal response; CMS will form a commission on safety; an elderly social worker dies; veterans’ homes and those in home care struggle; and overall staffing levels drop.
“I guess you could call it a little bit of a weak spot, because things are happening at the nursing homes that we’re not happy about,” President Donald Trump said. While some praised the decision, others in the industry say it falls far short of what’s needed.
More states are releasing the names of nursing homes where testing was inadequate and workers lacked preventive equipment, according to The Washington Post. More than 1 in 6 facilities report coronavirus cases. Nursing home news is also reported from Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey and California.
The extra costs of covering coronavirus care is being offset by missed elective procedures, insurers are reporting. But America’s Health Insurance Plans, the powerful health insurance lobby, is telling a different story in Washington. Meanwhile, worried that the surge in unemployment will bolster support for “Medicare for All” plans, big businesses get behind a bailout for employer-sponsored coverage. And aggressive debt collection continues during the crisis, ProPublica reports.
Nursing homes have been particularly hard hit by the outbreak.
Although Congress and President Donald Trump made testing free to patients, and some insurers are waiving copays and deductibles for treatment within their networks, the survey suggests such messages may not be getting to the public. In other costs news: halt in elective care offsets insurers’ COVID-19 costs; a portal is created for provider payments from HHS; and CMS suddenly suspends advance Medicare payments.