KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

HHS Report Finds Nursing Homes Not Prepared For Natural Disasters

The authors suggest that the federal government mandate better planning. At the same time, many nursing home officials are arguing that as the economy improves, states should increase their funding of Medicaid.

The Associated Press: Big Gaps Found In Nursing Homes' Disaster Plans
Tornado, hurricane or flood, nursing homes are woefully unprepared to protect frail residents in a natural disaster, government investigators say. ... The report recommends that Medicare and Medicaid add specific emergency planning and training steps to the existing federal requirement that nursing homes have a disaster plan. Many such steps are now in nonbinding federal guidelines that investigators found were disregarded (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/16).

The Hill: Nursing Homes Say It's Time For States To Undo Medicaid Cuts
States should boost their Medicaid spending as the economy improves and their budgets begin to grow back, the nursing home industry said Friday. Many states made significant Medicaid cuts in 2009 and 2010, to help keep their spending in line with falling tax revenues. But after those two years of decline, every state saw its tax revenues increase last year, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau. Nursing homes said states should restore Medicaid funding as their budgets continue to improve (Baker, 4/13).

The Labor Department announced plans to provide more protection for nursing home employees and other workers:

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Nursing Aides Receive New Worker Protections
Think dangerous jobs, and a police officer entering a dark hallway or a firefighter running into a burning building might come to mind. But even more risky? Nursing aides, who have an occupation with the nation's second highest rate of work-related injuries or illness (Marcy, 4/13). 

Meanwhile, a federal report offers a view on nursing home residents --

Kansas Health Institute News: New Report Paints Profile Of Typical Assisted Living Resident
The majority of people living in residential care facilities nationwide are white females over the age of 85, and one in five is a Medicaid beneficiary, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People living in state-regulated residential care facilities -- such as assisted living communities -- receive housing and services because they cannot live independently but generally do not require the skilled level of care provided by full-service nursing homes (4/13). 

MedPage Today: Survey Paints Picture of Assisted Living
Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia affected 42 percent of individuals at the assisted living facilities, according to the first national survey of these centers. "These findings suggest a vulnerable population with a high burden of functional and cognitive impairment," the group wrote. The profile offered by the study may help in planning for their needs as well as the future long-term-care needs of younger adults, they wrote (Phend, 4/15). 

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