During this critical time, Home Health Care News remains committed to bringing you all the essential news related to home-based care operations. At the same time, we also recognize the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to our regular content, we’ll continue to highlight industry-related developments and mitigation strategies in this rolling bulletin.
What you need to know from Thursday (July 30):
— Presidential candidate Joe Biden highlighted the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing’s CAPABLE Program as an innovative way to improve home- and community-based care and reduce costs of hospitalization in his recent speech announcing an economic recovery plan in the wake of COVID-19. CAPABLE, which requires a $3,000 investment, returns a savings of more than $20,000 in medical costs by helping older adults stay out of nursing homes by remaining in their own homes longer. The program uses a team built around a nurse, occupational therapist and handy worker. HHCN previously reported on the CAPABLE program in August 2019.
— In the week ending July 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims was 1,434,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level, new statistics from the Department of Labor show. The previous week’s level was revised up by 6,000 from 1,416,000 to 1,422,000.
— There was a clear telehealth boom across health care in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to primary care. While telehealth services are still popular, they’re leveling off somewhat, according to MedPage Today.
— Washington-based Family Resource Home Care is seeing a rise in demand for its in-home care services for the disabled and elderly. Nonetheless, it is struggling to attract home care workers despite high unemployment levels in its markets, reports The Spokesman-Review. Other home health and home care agencies across the country are experiencing a similar dilemma.
What you need to know from Wednesday (July 29):
— Lawmakers are calling out fake and faulty personal protective equipment in the supply chain. During a panel Tuesday, members of the Senate Finance Committee identified fraudulent PPE as an ongoing problem — one that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. “Trump has said the government is, and I quote, ‘not a shipping clerk,’ and that when it comes to acquiring PPE, governors are supposed to be doing it,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the committee’s ranking member, said. “His disinterest in leading any kind of coordinated effort to acquire and distribute PPE forced states to compete on the open market. That leaves a lot of room for sketchy suppliers and scam artists to rip off the taxpayer and endanger front-line public health workers with unsafe and substandard PPE.”
— Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is warning four states to get their coronavirus rates under control or face the deadly consequences. Those states include Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. There, the percentage of total COVID-19 tests with positive results are on the rise. ABC News has the full story.
— Landmark Health — an in-home medical company with private equity backing — has seen its demand for home-based medical care jump 33% since the coronavirus pandemic hit. As a result, it expects its revenue will be up 230% in 2020, Landmark Chief Medical Officer Michael Le told HealthLeadersMedia.
— More than 150,000 people in the U.S. have died as a result of COVID-19, and cases continue to rise in 23 states and Puerto Rico, according to The New York Times.
— Also from The Times, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, says Democrats and the Trump administration are “nowhere close to a deal” on the latest round of coronavirus aid. That means the federal unemployment boost will likely run out Friday.
What you need to know from Tuesday (July 28):
— CMS released updated data confirming the COVID-19 public health emergency is disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations, particularly racial and ethnic minority groups. Black Medicare beneficiaries continue to be hospitalized at higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups, with 670 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries.
— Also included in CMS’s newly released data: updated numbers on the cost of COVID-19 care. CMS has paid $2.8 billion in Medicare fee-for-service claims for COVID-related hospitalizations — an average of $25,255 per beneficiary.
— Earlier this month, former Vice President Joe Biden — the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 — unveiled a $775 billion plan to boost the caregiver economy. In part, the plan is to increase wages for home-based care workers, which Biden described as undervalued and underpaid. Politifact validated that claim on Tuesday.
— Amazon announced on Tuesday that the face shields designed by Amazon Prime Air drones engineers are available at-cost online to front-line health care workers. A pack of 25 is $66.25 — or $2.65 per shield, which is roughly 33% less than the cost of all other reusable face shields currently available, according to the company.
— There are now 21 states in the COVID-19 “red zone.” They include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. “Red zone states” are designated as such because they had more than 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the past week.
What you need to know from Monday (July 27):
— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Republican coronavirus relief plan on Monday. McConnell said the legislation would include relief for jobless Americans, another $1,200 stimulus check for some individuals and more Paycheck Protection Program loan funds. The Republican plan would also provide some liability protections for doctors and other health care-related businesses. CNBC has more details here.
— Barry Cargill, president and CEO of the Michigan HomeCare & Hospice Association, is the latest industry advocate to pen a call-to-action piece directed toward regulators. “To ensure home health agencies can survive the duration of the present health emergency, additional federal funds would prevent agency closures and staff layoffs while supporting continuity of care for patients,” Cargill wrote in a new op-ed published Monday. “Along with providing the financial resources necessary to maintain our operations, Medicare regulators and federal lawmakers must also move to ensure home health patients can receive care without risking potentially deadly exposure to COVID-19. This is where telehealth and telephonic virtual visits can play a vital role.”
— The New York State Senate and Assembly voted on July 23 to partially repeal liability protections granted to nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities as part of the state budget passed in April, Skilled Nursing News reported.
— The number of people covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) increased by 1.2 million between December 2019 and April 2020, including an increase in enrollment of 800,000 people since March, according to a new KFF analysis. Medicaid enrollment had declined over the previous two years.
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