Looking Ahead: Changes and Legislation that Could Impact LTC
Long-term care organizations are like experienced drivers navigating a bumpy road. As a highly regulated industry, LTC communities learn to adapt to the various pillars that affect their residents, staff, volunteers, community, and, ultimately, their reputation and success. The latest Forum webinar, Fireside Chat with Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition—What’s on the Agenda Related to Long-Term Care, provides a road map of upcoming legislative issues that LTC communities will encounter.
Presenters Alan Rosenbloom, President and CEO of Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition (SCPC), and Brian Kramer, President and Chief Information Officer of Forum Extended Care Services, highlight important information that will impact nursing homes, assisted living communities, and LTC communities.
So, what’s on the LTC agenda? Let’s take a look:
With the arrival of Delta and other COVID variants, President Biden is seeking to mandate vaccination for nursing homes and assisted living. While nothing has been determined, a vaccine mandate will further complicate decreasing occupancy and limited staff, two things the pandemic has already impacted.
Post-pandemic, nursing homes have an average occupancy of approximately 71%, which has a substantial economic impact. Assisted living communities have a slightly better occupancy rate, but overall, these sectors are experiencing the effects of fewer residents and less revenue. Vaccine mandates will also potentially affect the quality of care. Providing adequate care staff is already an issue for many senior communities; that burden would increase with vaccine mandates. Senior care communities might find retaining and recruiting team members more challenging when other healthcare positions are available without a vaccine mandate.
Another area of interest for LTC communities is the $1.7 trillion infrastructure bill. Twenty-five percent of the proposed legislation will be designated for human infrastructure, including funding for the newly proposed Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act. The new accountability act may be concerning for nursing homes because of potential penalties against reporting errors. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) could begin to play a more significant role in overseeing LTC communities’ primary functions.
Home- and Community-Based Services
There is a push to expand Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) for Medicaid recipients. There is a bias that nursing homes offer more robust care for this population. However, Medicaid beds are limited. HCBS may increase the number of services provided as the sector grows and gains popularity to avoid waiting lists for available beds.
LTC pharmacies are keeping a watchful eye on legislation. They, too, have been hit by lower occupancy rates and have received little or no financial support from the federal government. Fewer residents mean fewer medications. Will the federal government negotiate with drug manufacturers to provide Medicare Parts A and D pricing? There is confusion about the LTC Pharmacy Definition Act of 2021 and its impact on LTC pharmacy providers. The SCPC is pushing hard on this area of concern to get more information and clarity.
Unfortunately, all LTC communities can do is wait for more critical information and stay informed. The SCPC remains vigilant in monitoring progress and potential pitfalls on the road ahead. The August webinar is a simple way to stay engaged in the industry and alert to any potential roadblocks your community might face.
Click here to view the webinar.