Congress Approves Bill Bolstering Medicare Patients’ Hospital Rights

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but have not been admitted to the hospital. It’s a distinction that’s easy to miss until patients are hit with big medical bills after a short stay. The vote follows overwhelming approval in the U. S. House of Representatives in March. The legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama, said its House sponsor, …

Government Nursing Home Ratings Getting Tougher

Starting immediately, the federal government is making it harder for nursing homes to get top grades on a public report card, in part by increasing scrutiny of their use of antipsychotic drugs and raising the bar on an array of quality measures. Those grades — in the form of one- to five-star ratings — are part of Nursing Home Compare, a government website to help consumers evaluate nursing homes. While the star ratings, which debuted in December 2008, are lauded …

Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients is whether to buy long-term care insurance. With the average cost of a private room in care facilities topping $94,000 a year, according to a 2013 study by insurer John Hancock, it’s a reasonable concern. Many of us will need some form of long-term care (LTC), so the question of whether to buy insurance to help with the associated costs is a real one. I think the decision is a very close call. At …

Adult Day Services: A Model of Person- and Family-Centered Care

A recent study found that more than a quarter million participants attend an estimated 4,800 community-based adult day service (ADS) centers in the U.S. Although most participants are older people, more than one-third of ADS participants are younger than 65. Nearly one in three ADS participants has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. ADS centers provide coordinated and reliable services and supports. Services for participants include social activities, meals, personal care (such as help with toileting), a limited array …

How Medicare Might End Surprise Nursing Care Penalties

By Susan Jaffe for Kaiser Health News Medicare officials have allowed patients at dozens of hospitals participating in pilot projects across the country to be exempted from the controversial requirement that limits nursing home coverage to seniors admitted to a hospital for at least three days. The idea behind these experiments is to find out whether new payment arrangements with the hospitals and other health care providers that drop the three-day rule can reduce costs or keep them the same …

Nursing Home Hit With $3.3 Million Negligence Verdict

Every now and then, a jury reaches deep into a defendant’s pockets to punish it for its reprehensible conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar acts. Such was the case in May, when a Colorado jury awarded 83-year-old James Sharon and his family $3.3 million after finding the nursing home entrusted with his care guilty of negligence. Sharon’s injuries included bedsores, skin tears and abrasions, dehydration, malnutrition, and E. coli and urinary tract infections – all because he …