Waiver sought for health plan fee

HYANNIS — A new supplemental state fee assessed to employers for workers receiving health insurance through MassHealth or the Massachusetts Health Connector is hitting small businesses and nonprofit organizations hard. But state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, hopes to get them some relief through an amendment to the state’s fiscal year 2019 budget that would offer a hardship exemption to the surcharge. The Employer Medical Assistance Contribution supplement, proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2017, went into effect Jan. 1. The
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As Trump targets immigrants, elderly and others brace to lose caregivers

By Melissa Bailey | Kaiser Health News BOSTON — The two women have been together since 2011, a 96-year-old originally from Italy and a Haitian immigrant who has helped her remain in her home — giving her showers, changing her clothes, taking her to her favorite parks and discount grocery stores. “Hello, bella,” Nirva greets Isolina Dicenso, using the Italian word for “beautiful.” “Hi, baby,” Dicenso replies. But changes to federal immigration policy are putting both at risk. Haitian caregivers
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Hillcrest Commons Promotes Concurrent Therapy To Neal

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hillcrest Commons would like to expand its group and concurrent therapy programs, but a 7-year-old Medicaid and Medicare law prevent it from doing so. But, now there is legislation that could allow for those sessions to have greater coverage, which advocates say is a benefit to the patient, the health-care organization, and to the government. "There is pending legislation in Washington that would allow for greater therapy services for people access their Medicare benefit. Instead of one-on-one
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In special mural, joy and beauty come in pieces

STOUGHTON — Joy showed up in the lobby of the Copley at Stoughton nursing home on Sumner Street 12 days before Christmas. Music played. Eggnog and cookies were served. And while a mural of a scene from a Norman Rockwell illustration was unveiled, the nursing home administrator and activities director made congratulatory speeches. What had been 24 separate panels, each measuring 16 inches by 20 inches, was being revealed as a whole for the first time. Fifteen residents and almost
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Five Nursing Homes to Close -- More Than 1,000 Residents and Staff Impacted

BOSTON—Following nearly a decade of significant underfunding of Massachusetts nursing homes, five facilities filed notice with the state Department of Public Health last week of their intent to shut down. More than 1,000 residents and staff will be impacted by the announced closures. The Massachusetts Senior Care Association today stressed that these decisions underscore an industry on the brink of collapse due largely to inadequate state Medicaid funding, and that many more closures are possible. According to state cost report
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Nursing facilities, and their residents, will feel impact if Haitians’ status ends

The Trump administration’s decision to end temporary protected status , or TPS, for Haitians living in the United States will have a devastating impact on the ability of skilled nursing facilities to provide quality care to frail and disabled residents. Massachusetts nursing facilities rely heavily on first-generation Americans and immigrants to meet care needs. There are approximately 4,300 Haitians who provide care and companionship to our residents. These workers include licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants, and laundry and food service
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Outside the Box: Advocacy on the edge of crisis

Tara Gregorio has had a busy first year. Since coming on to the Massachusetts Senior Care Association as its president in January, she has had to grapple with leading an organization representing approximately 400 nursing facilities and assisted living residences, caring for some of the most vulnerable people in the state. Of those facilities, stagnant reimbursements mean approximately half are operating in the red. The organization said 180 are at risk of closing, taking with them more than 25,000 jobs.
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Lawmakers restore Medicaid nursing home funding reduced by Gov. Baker

By Elisha Machado BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts nursing homes are getting more funding from the state this year than approved by Governor Charlie Baker in July. They say the money can help ensure their workers are paid a living wage. Nursing home facilities are the second largest health care employer in the state, providing jobs for 77,000 workers. But nursing facilities are underfunded by $37 per day, per patient, according to the Massachusetts Senior Care Association. “Since we’re so dependent
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SENATE LAWMAKERS JOIN HOUSE IN OVERRIDING GOVERNOR’S VETO-- UNANIMOUS VOTE RESTORES $7.5 MILLION IN MEDICAID FUNDING FOR NURSING HOMES

BOSTON—With a unanimous vote, the Massachusetts Senate overrode Governor Charlie Baker's veto of $7.5 million in Medicaid nursing facility funding for the FY 2018 budget. Nearly 70% of skilled nursing home residents have their care paid for by MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. For nearly a decade state Medicaid reimbursements for nursing home care has flatlined, while the cost of caring for the state’s most vulnerable population has increased substantially. Skilled nursing facilities are underfunded by $37 per day, per
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HOUSE LAWMAKERS OVERRIDE GOVERNOR’S VETO AND VOTE TO KEEP $7.5 MILLION IN MEDICAID FUNDING FOR NURSING HOMES

BOSTON—In a critical move, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to override Governor Charlie Baker's veto of $7.5 million in Medicaid nursing facility funding. Currently, three-quarters of the state’s nursing facilities have a combined negative margin of 4.4%, an indication that the sector is experiencing an unprecedented financial crisis---a crisis brought on by the state’s lack of investment in nursing home Medicaid funding. Nearly 70% of skilled nursing home residents have their care paid for by Medicaid. Because three-quarters
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Nursing homes struggling to make money

By Peter Jasinski, pjasinski@sentinelandenterprise.com LEOMINSTER -- Bill Reidt recalls that when he got his start in long-term nursing care more than 30 years ago, there were hundreds more facilities throughout the state than there are now. "There were over 600 nursing homes in Massachusetts, and a lot of them were the smaller ones that everyone loved. But they couldn't function and they closed," said Reidt, executive director of Life Care Center of Leominster. "Right now there are buildings that have
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Lawmakers Told Many Skilled Nursing Facilities on the Verge of Bankruptcy and Possible Closure

BOSTON— Saying “there has never been more urgency,” frontline workers, resident family members, administrators and the Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA) today told lawmakers, on the Joint Committee of Elder Affairs, that unless they take drastic action to reverse the lack of investment in the nursing home industry, several facilities face closure, displacing hundreds of residents. A recent analysis of 2016 state cost report data, filed with the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) shows three quarters of the
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Mass. Nursing Home Industry Facing Crisis, Industry Says

BOSTON -- Nursing home administrators and staff sounded the alarm on Monday, telling lawmakers their industry is underfunded and needs help. “There has never been more urgency in the need to stabilize the commonwealth’s nursing facilities,” Matt Salmon, the CEO of Salmon Health and Retirement and vice chairman of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association board, said at a Joint Committee on Elder Affairs hearing. “We’re facing an unprecedented financial crisis that is threatening the quality of care that we provide.
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123 MA LEGISLATORS ENDORSE NEED TO STABILIZE NURSING HOME FACILITIES

BOSTON— In an overwhelming and bipartisan show of support, 123 Massachusetts Representatives and Senators have signed on as co-sponsors to a nursing home stabilization bill that would better enable nursing facilities to meet the daily care needs for their residents and employees. Every year more than 150,000 Massachusetts residents rely on skilled nursing facilities to provide quality care when they can no longer live safely in their home, and when they are undergoing rehabilitation services after a short hospital stay
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Mass Senior Care Association Urges Lawmakers to Support Ballot Initiative to Increase Personal Income Tax on Those Earning Over $1 Million

Boston -- The Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA) is calling on legislators to support a constitutional amendment that would add a 4% surtax on personal incomes over $ 1 million. It is estimated that approval of this ballot initiative would generate nearly $2 billion in additional state revenues, which is necessary to better ensure that there is sufficient state revenue to fund critical services including transportation, education and health and social services. The Commonwealth’s nursing facilities provide a core state
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Nursing homes hitting crisis point

Nursing homes hitting crisis point By Katie Lannan State House News Service BOSTON -- One out of every seven direct care staff positions in Massachusetts nursing homes is vacant, the number of deficiency-free homes has dropped since 2013, and half of the facilities have less than four days of cash on hand, according to advocates seeking more state support for nursing homes. "We are seeing an erosion of financial support for nursing facility care that is beginning to impact staffing
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A Crisis in Care

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee deserves praise for working to address large-scale financial problems plaguing Massachusetts’ nursing homes. McGee filed a budget amendment increasing the state Senate allocation for the nursing facility Medicaid rates account to $362.9 million from $345.1 million now budgeted by the Senate and Gov. Baker. Nursing home advocates are begging for help to close a $37 a day gap between the cost of care and the state MassHealth reimbursement rate. They say Massachusetts nursing homes are
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Industry: Nursing homes at "crisis point" due to state underpayments

By Katie Lannan 
 STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 22, 2017....One out of every seven direct care staff positions in Massachusetts nursing homes is vacant, the number of deficiency-free homes has dropped since 2013, and half of the facilities have less than four days of cash on hand, according to advocates seeking more state support for nursing homes. "We are seeing an erosion of financial support for nursing facility care that is beginning to impact staffing as well as quality resident
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Doctors want Trump to allow Haitians to stay in US

By Maria Cramer Hundreds of doctors signed a letter Tuesday calling on the Department of Homeland Security to allow about 58,000 Haitians affected by the country’s 2010 earthquake to stay in the United States for at least another year . The letter, signed by 552 doctors from across the country, asked Secretary John F. Kelly to extend their participation in a program known as temporary protected status for another 18 months. Under the program, immigrants living in the United States
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McCarthy: Careworkers’ pay is a public concern

By Jacquelyn M. McCarthy/Guest Columnist Bethany Health Care Center, a Sponsored Ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, has been providing exceptional care to MetroWest and our neighbors in the surrounding area since 1991. We are fortunate to have compassionate RNs, LPNs, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and other frontline workers who selflessly help to make sure our residents have quality care while they reside here. I say selflessly for a reason. Yes, they are paid to provide the care. But
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MSCA DataPoints: Massachusetts Ranks As One Of The Worst In Nation In Funding For Nursing Homes

Nursing facilities in Massachusetts lose substantially more money per Medicaid patient, per day than the national average, according to a national report. The study, commissioned by the American Health Care Association, shows that Massachusetts has the 4th highest Medicaid shortfall gap. Because over two out of 3 residents at Massachusetts nursing homes rely on Medicaid, the inadequacy of state funding has led to a dire financial situation for Massachusetts nursing facilities. The “2015 Medicaid Shortfall Report” also documents: Massachusetts nursing
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Medicaid Shortfall

Thirty-seven dollars per day per person. That’s the shortfall experienced by Massachusetts skilled nursing facilities to take care of MassHealth (Medicaid) patients. To put it another way, if it costs about $88,000 per year to take care of a Medicaid patient in a nursing home, the nursing home is reimbursed by the state and federal governments only about $75,000 per year. In fact, Massachusetts -- often ranked at or near the top in the nation in health care, education and
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Time to act on growing crisis in nursing homes

No one disputes the fact that seniors in Massachusetts' 371 nursing homes deserve the best possible care. Unfortunately, there's no consensus on how to provide the resources needed to deliver that care. It leads to a substantial funding gap that averages out to about $37 a day for those who rely on Medicaid -- approximately 70 percent of the state's roughly 42,000 nursing-home patients. That's because Medicaid reimbursements have not increased for several years, which leaves MassHealth, the state's dispenser
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Lawmakers back Medicaid changes to boost nursing home wages

By Mina Corpuz, Statehouse correspondent BOSTON -- The entire Lowell delegation is backing a pair of bills that would increase wages for nursing home workers and maintain quality care for patients. Rep. Tom Golden, a Lowell Democrat, and Sen. Harriette Chandler, a Worcester Democrat, offered bills that would "increase the bottom line" for the state's nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities by updating a decade-old Medicaid reimbursement that facilities rely on to operate and pay workers. "We ask these professionals to
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RICH BANE: MassHealth must act to save nursing care

RICH BANE: MassHealth must act to save nursing care March 11, 2017 The work they do is demanding, both physically and emotionally. As the owner of five South Shore skilled nursing facilities that employ nearly 1000 workers who care for more than 700 patients, I see our team's incredible dedication every day. Our direct care workers put in long hours and are there in the middle of the night when someone needs care and personal assistance or just someone to
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STRONG MAJORITY OF MA LEGISLATORS SUPPORT INVESTMENTS IN QUALITY NURSING HOME CARE BY CO-SPONSORING AN OMNIBUS STABILIZATION BILL

In an overwhelming and bipartisan show of support, 124 out of 200 Massachusetts Representatives and Senators have signed on as co-sponsors to a bill that would better enable nursing facilities to meet the needs of their residents and employees. The Commonwealth’s nursing facilities face dire financial and staffing challenges. According to an analysis of the most recent government data, nearly 60% of the state’s 410 nursing facilities are operating on negative budgets. The nursing facility provider community had a cumulative
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MSCA DataPoints: Survey Shows Overwhelming Majority of MA Residents Believe Adequate Funding for Skilled Nursing Facilities Should Be A Legislative Priority 

The Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA) today released a survey showing 71% of residents in the Commonwealth believe funding for skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers is a top priority. The survey by the American Health Care Association also shows that 89% agree that a lack of state government funding will have a negative impact on the quality of care. Other highlights: As the Baby Boom population becomes the fastest growing in the state, 81% of voters say they ‘believe
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