IHA Daily Briefing: Oct. 13

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 
HFS on Nursing Home Payment Reform 
Healthcare Workforce in a Generational Shift 
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates 
Briefly Noted

HFS on Nursing Home Payment Reform
The Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) today issued a report that includes a series of recommendations for nursing home payment reform, which HFS says are geared towards creating a system of long-term care in Illinois that is safer, more equitable and more dignified for all nursing home residents.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on long-term care facilities and, more importantly, the people who reside there. Our analysis shows that Black and Brown Medicaid customers were disproportionately affected. This is unacceptable,” said HFS Director Theresa Eagleson. “This report sets forth our proposal for holding nursing homes accountable for providing high-quality care for all residents and creating a more equitable future of long-term care in Illinois. We look forward to continuing to engage with legislators, the nursing home industry, labor representatives and other stakeholders, as we work to make this vision a reality.”

In the 83-page report, HFS recommends increasing funding to the industry to address disparities, and recommends that any new revenue to the industry—whether from general funds or generated from an enhanced nursing home assessment—must be linked to safety and quality improvements for residents. HFS’ recommended next steps include:

  • Immediately authorize a single, scaled (by volume) assessment on occupied beds to be effective Jan. 2022, and allow it to grow as case-mix grows.   
  • Authorize Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) case-mix methodology and other rate changes, effective Jan. 2022.   
  • Authorize funded quality and staffing enhancements as part of the nursing home reimbursement methodology.   
  • HFS proposes two-thirds of funding be dedicated to staffing increases and workforce transformation. The remaining third would be used to reward providers for achieving higher levels of care and plans to evolve and upgrade quality metrics over time, in accordance with the Department’s Quality Pillars and in consultation with stakeholders.   
  • Prohibit staffing agencies from having non-compete clauses that keep nursing facilities from hiring agency staff that have been assigned to them.   
  • If additional amounts of ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Funds are dedicated to nursing facilities, HFS recommends targeting this funding for use in addressing urgent one-time needs, in particular the protection of residents and frontline staff from the next variant or virus, consistent with federal allowable purposes for these funds, including but not limited to: reducing room crowding; and improving air quality, filtering, and replacement.   
  • Require additional transparency in nursing home ownership and revenues.   
  • Require the Department to continue to study impact on equity for residents and pay for workers.

For more information, see HFS’ Nursing Home Payment Update webpage.

Healthcare Workforce in a Generational Shift
The healthcare workforce is undergoing a dramatic generational shift as Baby Boomers are retiring at a faster clip, leaving Millennials as the largest portion of healthcare professionals. In a recent blog post, IHA Strategic Partner Medical Solutions addresses how hospitals and health systems can build a strong, committed workforce in the face of this shift.

The blog post, “The Change Agents: Millennials as Caregivers,” describes Millennials as typically self-confident and firmly believing in their value to their employer. Because they often question why, Millennials can be change agents in their organizations, said Courtney Dobernecker of Medical Solutions in the post.

While Millennials are excited to embrace new challenges and learn new things, they also prioritize work-life balance in contrast to older staff. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a Millennial.

Dobernecker, who works specifically with Illinois hospitals and health systems, outlined three ways to appeal to the strengths of Millennials:

  • Emphasize team-building approaches to everyday problem solving and ongoing education programs;   
  • Shift internal training and development toward electronic media, where Millennials spend most of their time gathering information; and   
  • Ensure Millennial staff are highly engaged to reduce the likelihood they leave your organization.

Millennials do not fear changing jobs or seeking new opportunities more frequently, Dobernecker noted, which is important to note as hospital staff have been challenged with the demands of caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical Solutions is a managed services provider and leader in total workforce solutions. To learn more, please contact Dobernecker at Courtney.Dobernecker@medicalsolutions.com or 402-225-0483.

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 2,913 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, including 39 additional deaths.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 1,660,883 cases, including 25,327 deaths. In the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 105,515 specimens for a total of 33,443,341. As of last night, 1,615 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 365 patients were in the ICU and 197 patients were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests is 2.1%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity is 2.6%. The latest daily case positivity rate is 2.76%.

The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily in Illinois is 28,950 doses, with 34,079 doses administered in the past 24 hours. IDPH reports 64.9% of adult Illinoisans (18 years and older) have been fully vaccinated, while 82.5% have received at least one vaccination dose. For the Illinois population 12 years and older, 63.4% have been fully vaccinated, while 80.9% have received at least one vaccination dose.

Tuesday’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed more than 44.4 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (a daily increase of more than 52,000 cases; seven-day moving average of more than 85,000 cases), with 714,243 deaths (a daily increase of 527).

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard showed more than 238.5 million COVID-19 cases globally (a daily increase of more than 364,000 cases), with more than 4.86 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 91.5 million cases and more than 2.24 million deaths.

Briefly Noted
A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis estimates that nationally more than 90,000 deaths from COVID-19 since June could have been prevented with vaccines. More than half of those preventable deaths occurred in September.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force yesterday issued a draft recommendation statement on aspirin use to prevent heart disease and stroke, also known as cardiovascular disease (CVD). People ages 40 to 59 who are at higher risk for CVD and do not have a history of CVD should decide with their clinician whether to start taking aspirin. People age 60 or older should not start taking aspirin for heart disease and stroke prevention because the risk of bleeding cancels out the benefits of preventing heart disease. Comments can be submitted here until Nov. 8.