In The News

Don’t Miss Your Opportunity to Participate in the Largest Healthcare at Home Study to Date

HHAC has partnered with the leaders of the National Healthcare at Home Best Practices Study to deliver best practices and insights on the future of home care delivery to our members. The study is now in its final stages and we need to ensure Colorado is represented.  Agencies who have not yet participated in the full study are asked to complete 25 key questions to ensure all agency demographics are represented.  Click here to complete the survey and make sure your voice is heard.  

Some exciting preliminary insights from the study to date include:

  • Not measuring or knowing your staff turnover rate can lead to one full patient satisfaction STAR rating below agencies that do.  
  • Hospices with palliative care programs show an increased median length of stay from 19 days to 26 days while maintaining a healthy average length of stay of 72 days.  
  • Pay was listed as the number one reason for staff turnover in both home health and hospice surveys, followed by home care and COVID related burnout.  In addition, agencies that offered a variety of bonuses had lower overall turnover rates.

Participating agencies receive exclusive access to an interactive portal with detailed benchmarks that can be segmented by size, outcomes, and more.  But we can’t include all breakdowns, including by state, unless we receive your help.  Join hundreds of other thousand agency sites who have completed the National Best Practice Study survey today and get access to ALL insights released from the study.

The National Healthcare at Home Best Practices Study is sponsored by HHAC,  National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC),  National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), NAHC Forum of State Associations, LeadingAge, Home Care Association of America (HCAOA), and Council of State Home Care Associations.   Agencies can learn more about the study at the study website or by emailing [email protected]

 

State Reverses Course, Puts Moratorium on CNA PAR Denials and Reductions

A mysteriously high number of PAR (Prior Authorization Request) disapprovals have been coming from state Medicaid's new utilization manager, KEPRO, with many of our home health agency members and their client families being negatively affected. 

Last week, following extensive lobbying efforts by HHAC, we received word through State Rep. Susan Lontine that the state has reversed course and will stop CNA PAR Denials and Reductions until June 1. Additionally, the state will reinstate benefits back to Nov. 1, 2021. 

HHAC intends to share more information with you in the coming weeks about our efforts to fix ALL of the issues surrounding PAR approvals and disapprovals. In the meantime, thank you for your membership in HHAC. Your support of our association makes it possible for our association to fight these battles on behalf of all home care agencies and hospice organizations.

 

Biden to Give Away 400 million N95 Masks Starting Next Week

By Zeke Miller, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings.

The White House announced Wednesday that the masks will come from the government's Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They will begin shipping this week for distribution starting late next week, the White House said.

This will be the largest distribution of free masks by the federal government to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In early 2020, then-President Donald Trump's administration considered and then shelved plans to send masks to all American at their homes. President Joe Biden embraced the initiative after facing mounting criticism this month over the inaccessibility — both in supply and cost — of N95 masks as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept across the country.

After facing similar criticism over a winter shortage of COVID-19 at-home test kits, Biden this week launched a website for Americans to order four rapid tests to be shipped to their homes for free, with the first tests to ship later this month.

The White House said the masks will be made available at pharmacies and community health centers that have partnered with the federal government's COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its guidance on face coverings to more clearly state that properly fitted N95 and KN95 masks offer the most protection against COVID-19. Still, it didn't formally recommend N95s over cloth masks.

The best mask "is the one that you will wear and the one you can keep on all day long, that you can tolerate in public indoor settings," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week.

Details were not immediately available on the specifics of the program, including the sort of masks to be provided, whether kid-size ones will be available and whether the masks could be reworn.

The White House said that "to ensure broad access for all Americans, there will be three masks available per person."

N95 or KN95 masks are more widely available now than at any other time during the pandemic, though they are often more costly than less-protective surgical masks or cloth masks.

 

The Government Is Giving Away 500 Million Free COVID Tests: How To Order Yours Online

On Friday, January 14, the Biden administration announced that Americans will be able to order free rapid COVID-19 tests from a national website starting on Wednesday, January 19. A successful free test distribution program would fulfill a promise President Biden made before Christmas, when he said that his administration would purchase and make free 500 million rapid at-home coronavirus tests to Americans.

On Thursday, January 13, Biden announced his plans to purchase an additional 500 million tests, bringing the total number of tests available to 1 billion. The government has already successfully contracted for at least 420 million tests, and the White House confirmed this week that the first 500 million tests are available to order and ready to ship directly to American households starting on January 19.

According to the briefing released by the White House, “Testing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that Americans use at-home tests if they begin to have symptoms, at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated.”

As the highly contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus spreads across the country, many Americans have struggled to access COVID testing. Many stores are sold out of rapid at-home tests, and some testing sites have struggled with long lines and delayed results.

The free COVID-19 test website won’t be operational until next week. To help make sure you’re ready to order your free rapid COVID-19 tests online, we’ve put together a quick resource guide based on the White House’s press briefing and website.

Where and When Can I Order My Free Rapid Tests?

The website set up by the federal government is COVIDTests.gov, and will go live sometime next Wednesday, January 19. The Biden administration didn’t specify a time when the website would go live, but it’s happening on Wednesday, so we recommend checking intermittently throughout the day.

 

Biden Confident He Can Get 'Big Chunks' of $1.75T Build Back Better Act Signed into Law

Fierce Healthcare by Robert King

President Joe Biden endorsed splitting up large parts of his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act to pass separately after centrist concerns doomed passing the package overall late last year.

The president and key congressional leaders were open to the piecemeal approach this week, but it remains unclear what parts of the massive package will advance. The package passed the House late last year and included massive healthcare items including extending enhanced Affordable Care Act exchange subsidies and closing the Medicaid coverage gap.

“I am confident we can get pieces, big chunks of the build back better law signed into law,” Biden said during a press conference Wednesday marking the one-year anniversary of his presidency.

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said late last year that he could not support the full package due to concerns over inflation and government spending.

The remarks were a major setback for Democrats hoping to approve the package at the tail end of 2021. But Democrats are now hoping to regroup and pass the legislation in separate pieces...

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