In The News

Senate Joins House to Avert Medicare Cuts to Providers

On Thursday evening, the Senate voted 59-34 to avert looming Medicare cuts to providers, sending the legislation to President Biden's desk for signature. The bill will delay 2% cuts to Medicare rates through March 2022 and delay a separate round of 4% Medicare cuts totaling about $36 billion to 2023.

The 2% cuts are from a 2011 law that established the budget sequestration, requiring spending to be reduced across the federal government beginning in 2013. The cuts, which were paused last year in response to COVID-19, will be further delayed until April 1, after which providers will see a 1% cut until June 30, and a 2% cut thereafter until the extended expiration of sequestration (currently 2030). Health care has long advocated for the exclusion of Medicare from sequestration and will likely continue to lobby for abolishment of the law.

The 4% Medicare cuts are a result of a budget law known as PAYGO that requires increases in the deficit be offset by raising revenue or reducing spending. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 resulted in a larger budget deficit, triggering PAYGO spending reductions.

Other Medicare-related payment policies in the bill include the maintenance of a 3% pay bump for Part B providers through 2022 under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

 

Age Safe America Certification

NAHC has partnered with Age Safe® America, a national membership, training, advocacy, and services organization, to provide you with an exclusive professional development opportunity.  

If you provide care, comfort, safety, and security to older adults, the Senior Home Safety Specialist™ certification might be the perfect fit for your career advancement. Home safety is the #1 concern of older adults and an ESSENTIAL component to aging successfully at home.

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Independence at Home Payment Model Didn't Yield Significant Savings, Quality Results for Medicare: Study

Fierce Healthcare
 
The Independence at Home payment model hasn’t improved quality or generated statistically significant savings for Medicare over the past six years, a new study found.
 
The study, published last week by Mathematica, looked at a model that gives physicians incentive payments for lowering Medicare costs and meeting a set of quality measures. The goal was to improve care coordination for patients especially after they leave the hospital.
 
“When examining dually eligible beneficiaries who received home-based primary care from any providers, Mathematica’s analysis found lower expenditures on institutional care and higher expenditures on home-based services—but no reduction in total Medicare or Medicaid spending,” according to a release on the firm’s analysis.
 
Mathematica examined its evaluation report in the sixth year of the model in 2019. The model was first created in 2010 and started in June 2012.
 
It found that the model’s payment incentive didn’t affect total Medicare spending in the sixth year of the model. Mathematica found the incentives led to a 1% decline in Medicare expenditures in year six of the model.
 
The reduction in total Medicare expenditures was driven largely by the largest service category of inpatient expenditures, which reduced spending by 4.1%.
 
The model also didn’t have an impact on hospital admissions the same year.
 
“We estimated that the payment incentive increased hospital admissions by 25 per 1,000 beneficiaries (1.4%) but this increase was not statistically significant,” the report said.
 
The analysis comes as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) has undertaken a strategic refresh of all its payment models, with a renewed focus on improving equity and becoming more streamlined. CMMI also wants to ensure reductions in spending aren’t the only metric models are evaluated against.
 
CMMI has also expanded several new models aimed at improving home care. Back in June, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed expanding nationwide a home health value-based purchasing model that rewards home health agencies for meeting certain quality metrics and spending initiatives.

 

OASIS Updates (12/09/2021)

More Lives Lost to COVID in 2021 than 2020

The New York Times reports, “More people in the United States have died from COVID-19 this year than died last year, before vaccines were available.”

Preliminary Data: Omicron Causes Milder Disease than Delta but is More Transmissible

The Washington Post reports, “World Health Organization officials said Wednesday morning that preliminary data suggest omicron presents a rapid increase in transmission but the variant causes milder cases of covid-19 than delta, which is still spreading across the globe. Although the emerging data is a cause of relief, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against drawing ‘firm conclusions,’ as he said it is ‘too early to be sure’ and more data and time is needed to have a ‘complete picture’ on the risks and impact of the variant.”

Another Federal Vaccine Mandate Blocked by Judge

WebMD reports, “A federal judge in Georgia temporarily blocked President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors on Tuesday, setting back the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine requirements.”

No Increased Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke in Older Adults from COVID-19 Vaccine

As reported on the Cardiovascular Business website, "COVID-19 vaccines are not associated with a heightened risk of adverse cardiovascular events among older adults, according to new research out of France. The analysis, published in JAMA, examined data from nearly 3.9 million adults 75 years old or older in France who received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and 3.2 million who had received both doses."

 

CDPHE Vaccine Mandate Updates

On August 30, 2021, the Board of Health adopted emergency revisions to 6 CCR 1011-1, Chapter 2 that established a requirement for all employees, direct contractors, and support staff to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Since that time, the Department has been working on revisions to these regulations, which will be presented to the Board of Health on December 15, 2021. The proposed revisions can be found here.
For the December 15th meeting, the Board of Health will require all individuals who wish to provide public testimony to sign-up in advance at this link. Public testimony will be limited to one (1) hour, and signing up to testify does not guarantee there will be time for all individuals to testify at the hearing. To ensure your voice is heard, the Board encourages individuals to submit written testimony in advance of the meeting.
Please email [email protected] regarding any questions you may have or if you would like to provide public comment or written testimony. Additional information on this meeting may be found on the Board of Health website.
 
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