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October 11, 2022

In this Issue:

  1. New Issue of The Resident Advocate Newsletter
  2. CMS Waives Training and Certification Requirements for 15 States
  3. Cures Act Final Rule Ensures Patients Have Full Access to Their Health Data
  4. Consumer Voice Joins Amicus Brief Emphasizing Residents' Rights
  5. ACL Releases First Report on Older Americans Act Programs
  6. Reminder: NORS Q&A on Thursday
  7. LGBTQ+ Inclusion Survey for Senior Housing Now Open
  8. Register for the Virtual Consumer Voice Conference

New Issue of The Resident Advocate Newsletter

resident-advocate-fall-2022.PNGThe Fall 2022 issue of The Resident Advocate is now available. This newsletter provides information on residents' rights and care issues; news and updates on national policy; and self-advocacy tips for obtaining person-centered, quality care.
This issue includes:

  • Ways to build community within and outside of the long-term care facility in order to increase residents' well-being,
  • Resources for residents as they prepare to vote in elections,
  • Tips for staying hydrated as well as common signs and symptoms of dehydration,
  • Flu season and COVID-19 booster resources, and
  • Information about this year’s Residents’ Rights Month.

The Resident Advocate is a great resource to share with long-term care residents. Nursing home staff, long-term care Ombudsman programs, family members, and other advocates are encouraged to forward this newsletter to residents or print and share copies. Download this issue or past issues from our website.

Read the Fall 2022 Resident Advocate.

CMS Waives Training and Certification Requirements for 15 States

On August 29, 2022, CMS issued formal guidance to nursing homes, counties, and states on how they may continue to operate without properly certified staff. This guidance came only two months after CMS rescinded the March 2020 waiver that allowed nursing homes to employ aides who are not fully trained and certified in accordance with federal requirements. This waiver was issued at the beginning of the pandemic and resulted in tens of thousands of insufficiently trained workers to provide direct care to nursing home residents. The August 29, 2022 guidance effectively continued the waiver for states, counties, or facilities that could meet certain criteria. Consumer Voice strongly opposed the August 29, 2022 guidance, noting that CMS itself had acknowledged this policy had resulted in poor health outcomes for nursing residents.  

Now, less than two months later, CMS has waived the full training and certification requirements for fifteen states.  These states were granted an extension to their waiver because they demonstrated testing backlogs or other delays that providers said prevented them from converting a large number of temporary nurse aides into permanent fully certified nurse assistants.  These states are Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Washington, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, New York, Georgia, New Jersey and Tennessee. Those waivers expire on various dates.
 
As a result of this policy, tens of thousands of nursing home residents will receive care from some staff who are not fully trained or certified as required by federal rules. Nursing facilities and states had over two years to create plans to have aides trained and certified. Instead, it appears that many facilities and states waited until the waiver ended and now are scrambling to meet the regulatory requirements.  

Residents, families, and other consumers concerned as to whether a nursing home is employing uncertified aides can:

  • Ask the nursing home administrator if the facility is currently operating with a nurse aide certification waiver. If so, how many nurse aides are uncertified? What is the facility's plan and timeline to get all aides fully trained and certified?
  • Contact your local state survey agency to determine whether a facility, county, or state has received a waiver of the nurse aide certification requirements.  
  • If a state or county has been granted a waiver, ask the state survey agency what their plan is to get all nurse aides fully trained and certified.
  • Report all instances or concerns regarding poor care to the local long-term care ombudsman and the state survey agency.

Cures Act Final Rule Ensures Patients Have Full Access to Their Health Data

The Cures Act Final Rule, effective October 6th, will provide patients with easier access to more of their electronic health information (EHI).  While the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that healthcare providers release healthcare data when requested by patients, the Cures Act sought to eliminate delays, costs to patients, and limits on what was shared.  The Cures Act Final Rule expands the definition of EHI to include all electronic Protected Health Information that the patient has access to under HIPPA.  Plus, it prohibits healthcare providers from so-called "information blocking," delaying release or preventing access to records.

For more information, read the article in McKnight's.

Consumer Voice Joins Amicus Brief Emphasizing Residents' Rights

Consumer Voice joined an amicus brief, filed with partner organizations, to the U.S. Supreme Court in Health and Hospital Corp. v. Talevski on behalf of residents of nursing facilities to maintain their ability to enforce their rights under the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act and Section 1983. Consumer Voice filed the brief with AARP Foundation, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, and the Long Term Care Community Coalition.  The amicus emphasizes that the federal nursing facility law establishes rights for residents, and that government enforcement is inadequate to protect those rights. The case is scheduled for oral argument in November.

ACL Releases First Report on Older Americans Act Programs

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) released its first comprehensive report on the accomplishment of Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III, VI, and VII programs.  Programs funded by the OAA provide essential services to older adults, targeting those with the greatest economic or social need, particularly low-income and minority persons, older individuals with limited English proficiency, and older persons living in rural areas. The report provides an overview of the history of the OAA; the purpose and services of the Title III, VI, and VII programs; and summarizes accomplishments and results for each of the programs using 2020 data.

Read the report.

Reminder: NORS Q&A on Thursday

Join the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC)'s Q&A on the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) on Thursday, October. 13th at 3:00pm ET.  Beverley Laubert, National Ombudsman Program Coordinator, ACL, will answer NORS-related questions.  Before joining, watch the September 21st TA Talk to see if any of your questions have already been answered.

Register

LGBTQ+ Inclusion Survey for Senior Housing Now Open

SAGE
and The HRC Foundation invite senior housing communities to participate in the Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI). The LEI is a national benchmarking survey for senior housing providers to assess, grow, and show their LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts. The LEI 2023 Survey is now open until November 30, 2022. Communities that complete the survey will appear in the national LEI 2023 Report and in an online searchable database. Communities with LGBTQ+-inclusive resident, employment, and visitation non-discrimination policies can achieve one of three tiers of recognition. Interested senior housing operators can learn more at www.theLEI.org.

Register for the Virtual Consumer Voice Conference

2022 CV Conference LogoThe 2022 In-Person Consumer Voice Conference in Baltimore is at capacity, and registration has closed.  We will maintain a wait list but do not expect to accommodate any additional registrants.

If we'll miss you in Baltimore, join us at the virtual component of the conference December 8-9, 2022.

The virtual conference will feature new live sessions, as well as select recorded programs from the in-person conference.

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