10 top LTC news stories of 2011

What a rollercoaster ride this year it was for long-term care professionals. With no rest for the weary following last year’s transition to MDS 3.0, providers in 2011 faced waves of regulatory, economic and societal challenges that tested their adaptability and fortitude.

Below are 10 of the top news stories that impacted the LTC industry in 2011:

Here come the boomers
From staffing levels and clinical care to housing design and activities programming, the influx of baby boomers starting last January—at the rate of 7,000 a day turning 65—portends sweeping changes for the senior care industry.

11.1 percent payment reductions to SNFs
The LTC industry is bracing for fallout from CMS’s 11.1 percent Medicare payment reduction to SNFs for 2012 in new rates that were implemented October 1, including staff reductions and other belt-tightening solutions.
RUG-IV payment adjustments
CMS came down hard on therapy providers with payment adjustments to recoup increased revenue under RUG-IV.

The rise of accountable care organizations

Establishing a solid relationship with a hospital system to drive referrals is imperative as CMS promotes its ACO models.

CLASS dismissed

The embattled national long-term care insurance program known as the Community Living Assisted Services and Supports (CLASS) Act was effectively shelved in October with a final vote to repeal it postponed until Congress returns from its winter break in January.

Super committee’s deficit reduction failure=automatic spending cuts

The congressional “super committee” announced in late November its failure to agree on a proposal that would reduce the nation’s deficit by $1.2 trillion, triggering across-the-board spending cuts to government programs starting in 2013.Included in the $1.2 trillion in triggered cuts, which take effect over the course of a decade, is a reduction to Medicare not to exceed 2 percent of the program’s yearly cost.

Legal challenges to healthcare reform
Several cases challenging the legality of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act made their way through the federal courts this year. Now the Supreme Court is slated to rule on the act’s constitutionality in 2012 and will likely issue a ruling by June.
Sluggish recovery in the seniors housing market
The anemic economy, volatile stock market and Medicare cuts to SNFs left developers skittish about investing in senior housing this year.

Greater focus on Alzheimer’s as numbers of those afflicted escalate

At this time, 5.4 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease; 35 million worldwide. When those numbers grow two- or three-fold, the implications will be enormous and far-reaching for society and our healthcare system.

Pressure grows for LTC providers to adopt electronic health records
If LTC providers expect to participate fully in the new healthcare paradigm, they need to be able to share patient information through interoperable electronic health records (EHRs) to facilitate activities such as partnerships and programs with hospitals, ACOs and health information exchanges.

Topics: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) , Finance , MDS/RAI , Medicare/Medicaid