Updates to the OASIS-C Page

November 25, 2009

We’ve a new sample letter that explains OASIS-C to physicians, available for download in MS Word format.  Elsewhere on the OASIS-C page, you’ll find summaries of information from NAHC and CMS, as well as other pertinent information.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Fearless Caregiver Family Checklist

November 25, 2009

Gary Barg, Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Caregiver Magazine sent out the following article titled “The Most Loving Gift” in his latest newsletter. For more information on the magazine and caregiver issues, visit caregiver.com.

The Most Loving Gift

My dad retired at the age of 61 in 1990. He looked forward to working with my mom in the new business that they had just opened, traveling, singing with friends (not necessarily singing well, but enjoying every minute) and seeing what life had to offer. Unfortunately, life did not have much to offer past the first few months of his retirement. One summer day, my mom noticed a strange bump on my dad’s head and they went to the doctor to check it out. His doctor called a few days later and, although it was the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend, told them to check into the hospital immediately.  Dad had an aggressive case of multiple myeloma and passed a year later.  The first days after his diagnosis were hectic as Dad’s condition progressed rapidly and he was not able to communicate with us either his wishes or where his important documents were located.  We learned (as many families do) the hard lessons the hard way and developed a simple list to help start the conversation with loved ones.

Fearless Caregiver Family Checklist
The most loving gift a person can give to one’s family is to put your affairs in order before a disaster or medical emergency. To assist in providing that gift, we have compiled the following list. The information and documents you should have prepared include:

  • All bank accounts, account numbers and types of accounts, and the location of banks.
  • Insurance companies, policy numbers, beneficiary as stated on the policies and type of insurance (health, life, long-term care, automobile, etc).
  • Deed and titles to ALL property.
  • Loan/lien information, who holds them and if there are any death provisions.
  • Social Security and Medicare numbers.
  • Military history, affiliations and papers (including discharge papers).
  • Up-to-date Will in a safe place (inform family where the Will is located).
  • Living Will or other Advanced Directives appropriate to your state of residence.
  • Durable Power of Attorney.
  • Instructions for funeral services and burial (if arrangements have been secured, name and location of funeral home).

Happy Thanksgiving and may the easy lessons be yours.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Home Care Fashion Contest

November 20, 2009

The Home Care Alliance has invited Boston-area fashion design students to create a home care/visiting nurse uniform.

The Alliance sent out this flier to various colleges that have degree programs in fashion design and entries into the contest will be on display at the Alliance’s annual Spring Conference.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Second Edition of Private Care Guide Coming

November 20, 2009

Due to unprecedented demand, the Alliance has already distributed and/or received orders for nearly all 8,000 copies of its 2010 Guide to Private Services.  And it’s still 2009!

To ensure that the Guide is always available and up-to-date, we will be printing 2,000 copies of a 2nd Edition, set for release by the end of the year.  In the meantime, we are still taking orders for the Guide, which is also available for free download.

The 2010 Home Health Resource Directory should be available in January and will be shipped to every hospital, COA, and ASAP in the state, as well as every oncologist and geriatric specialist.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Channel 5 News Report on Telehealth

November 17, 2009

WCVB-TV News (Channel 5, Boston) recently reported on a telehealth program run by the VA and a local veterans hospital. The story highlights a 50 percent reduction in hospitalization rates and a 38 percent reduction in bed days for veterans signed up with the remote monitoring technology program, which helps keep patients independent and in their homes.

Recognizing the potential of this technology for cost efficiency and improvement in quality of care, the Home Care Alliance has submitted legislation in collaboration with State Senator Harriette Chandler that would establish telehealth as a reimbursable service through Medicaid.

Many states have already taken this step as the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services allow telehealth to be included as a state service receiving federal matching funds and has the billing and cost infrastructure in place in terms of code definitions and procedures. The VA and other entities in Massachusetts offer telehealth services, but it is not federally reimbursed. For more on this subject, search the term “telehealth legislation” in our blog.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


MassHealth Budget Update

November 17, 2009

Last week MassHealth announced their plans to address a $300 million budget gap with cuts to, among other things, adult dental benefits, limitations to the personal care attendant program, and increases in generic drug co-pays. The Boston Globe reported on this issue on November 14 and noted in the story’s headline that the cuts “hit” home care, which bears clarifying.

The cuts that the Globe was referencing as reductions in home care are the following:

  • Personal care attendant benefits will no longer be available to patients who require PCA’s for less than 15 hours per week.
  • The entire budget for the Aging Service Access nursing home pre-screening initiative was eliminated. This was a relatively new line item that paid the ASAPs to educate (primarily hospitalized) clients about their options between nursing home care and care at home. While unfortunate, the cut does not directly effect the in-home services of ASAP funded home care.

The Home Care Alliance is pleased that any further damaging cuts to the home care funding and to home health rates were avoided in this round. We appreciate all the members who took the time to contact the Governor with information about the fragility of services and agencies under the current MassHealth reimbursement structure.

With no positive budget information in site, visibility and advocacy remains essential. Please check back to our blog for updates, send messages from our legislative action page, and check our special YouTube site for new videos on our home care visits with legislators for National Home Care Month and other advocacy efforts.

In these very challenging times, the Alliance will continue to strongly advocate for the interests of home care, home health and the patients they care for.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

sHealth announced their plans to address a $300 million budget gap with cuts to, among other things, adult dental benefits, limitations to the personal care attendant program, and increases in generic drug co-pays. The Boston Globe reported on this issue on November 14 and noted in the story’s headline that the cuts “hit” home care, which bears clarifying.

The cuts that the Globe was referencing as reductions in home care are the following:

  • Personal care attendant benefits will no longer be available to patients who require PCA’s for less than 15 hours per week.
  • The entire budget for the Aging Service Access nursing home pre-screening initiative was eliminate. This was a relatively new line item that paid the ASAPs to educate (primarily hospitalized) clients about their options between nursing home care and care at home. While unfortunate, the cut does not directly effect the in-home services of ASAP funded home care.

The Home Care Alliance is pleased that any further damaging cuts to the home care funding and to home health rates were avoided in this round. We appreciate all the members who took the time to contact the Governor with information about the fragility of services and agencies under the current MassHealth reimbursement structure.

With no positive budget information in site, visibility and advocacy remains essential. Please visit our website and check our special YouTube site for new videos on our home care visits with legislators for National Home Care Month and other advocacy efforts.

In these very challenging times, the Alliance will continue to strongly advocate for your interests and we hope you will keep us informed of any issues your agency or organization is facing.


Cost Containment Roadmap Completed

November 16, 2009

The Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council, which is a public entity responsible for setting quality and cost targets for the Commonwealth, has issued the final version of its Roadmap to Cost Containment. The Roadmap outlines 11 key strategies to allow the Commonwealth to meet its goals of sustainably containing cost growth in health care as well as improving the quality of health care.


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