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⭒ News & Notes Archive

December 2015

In this Issue

CANHR Sues State to Stop Illegal Dumping of Nursing Home Residents

CANHR and three nursing home residents have filed a lawsuit against California Secretary of Health and Human Services, Diana Dooley, charging that the State is willfully violating federal laws that protect against dumping nursing home residents into hospitals. For years, California nursing homes have been sending Medi-Cal residents to acute care hospitals and refusing to allow them to return to the nursing homes where they reside, primarily to increase profits and make space for more lucrative Medicare and private pay residents. CANHR is represented by BraunHagey & Borden LLP.Click here to read about the lawsuit.

New POLST Law Permits Non-Physicians to Write End-of-Life Orders

A new law (AB 637 (2015)) that goes into effect on January 1 permits nurse practitioners and physician assistants to sign Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). Until this law, only physicians were authorized to finalize these orders. CANHR continues to have concerns about POLSTs, primarily that they are overused for long-term care consumers and sometimes reflect the interests of providers instead of the patients for whom they are intended.Click here to read the new law.

Medicare to Cover Advance Care Planning Effective Jan 1

Beginning January 1, 2016, Medicare Part B will cover advance care planning (i.e., discussions with a doctor or health care practitioner about preferences for end-of-life care) for all beneficiaries.
Click here to read the new fact sheet from the National Council on Aging.

New Form To Request Medi-Cal Expenses Subject to Recovery

One of the most frequent complaints from Medi-Cal beneficiaries has been the inability to find out exactly how much in benefits have been paid on their behalf. In the past, beneficiaries or their representatives were required to complete a form DHCS 6236 – Request for Access to Protected Health Information – pay $25 and send it in to EDS Communications at the Department and hope they might receive some answer within 30 days. The new form, DHCS Form 4017 is a bit easier to complete; is for living beneficiaries only; still costs $25 – but is sent directly to the DHCS Estate Recovery Section.

To download a copy of the form, just search for DHCS 4017 or Click here.

Nursing Home Workers Fired over Posting Abusive Videos of Elderly

In a disturbing national trend, nursing home workers have been caught posting degrading and humiliating photos of elderly nursing home residents on social media networks such as Snapchat. ProPublica has identified 35 incidents since 2012, although these cases are most likely grossly underreported. Five nursing assistants from Gridley Healthcare and Wellness (Gridley, CA) were fired in April 2014 after sharing photos of residents who were inappropriately exposed or who appeared to be deceased. In October 2015, an employee at LifeHOUSE Vista Healthcare (Vista, CA) shared a nude video of a woman getting into the shower – with another employee standing in the background laughing. The California Attorney General charged one of the LifeHOUSE employees with misdemeanor counts of elder abuse and invasion of privacy in December 2015.Click here to read the story.

State Investigates Vintage Faire Nursing Home over Patient Transfers

Vintage Faire Nursing Home in Modesto was cited by the California Department of Public Health for transferring seven long-term residents “without medical justification as necessary for resident welfare, needs or safety.” At least four of the seven residents were severely mentally impaired, and one said she was given only 15 minutes to decide where to go. The facility’s staff told residents that it was removing long-term residents to make room for short-term patients. “Short term” is often code for higher-paying Medicare patients and “long term” refers to residents on low-paying Medi-Cal insurance.Click here to read the full story.

AB 927 to be Heard in Assembly Health Committee on January 12

On January 12, 2016, the Assembly Health Committee will hear AB 927 (McCarty), an important bill to help prevent nursing home owners with poor track records from acquiring nursing homes in California. CANHR and the San Diego County District Attorney’s office are co-sponsoring the bill, which responds to a series of articles by the Sacramento Bee on the very troubling performance of some of California’s nursing home chains. Many California nursing home residents are in grave danger because they live in facilities owned by operators who routinely neglect their needs.
Please help AB 927 pass by sending a support letter to the Assembly Health Committee.

2016 Cost of Living Adjustment

The Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announce cost of living adjustments each year based on a government measure of inflation. Unfortunately, this year there will be no adjustments to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. There will also be no changes to the Spousal Impoverishment standards for 2016.
See CANHR’s 2016 Cost of Living Adjustments.