Deadline Pushes Nursing Homes To Certify Temporary Nurse Aides

Some pandemic-era emergency waivers allowing nursing homes flexibility in hiring temporary aides have expired, leading to a rush to bring workers into compliance. Also: California rules union dues can be deducted from Medi-Cal payments; an Oregon Hospital COO is ousted; and more.

Modern Healthcare:
Nursing Homes Rush To Certify TNAs As CMS Deadline Looms

A waiver that allowed nursing homes flexibility over hiring temporary nurse aides during the COVID-19 pandemic came to an end Tuesday, leaving providers scrambling to bring workers into compliance. In April, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would eliminate some of the pandemic-related temporary waivers to nursing home regulations. Ending a waiver that permitted nursing homes to employ temporary nurse aides for more than four months is key to improving quality, the agency said. Nursing homes now have until Oct. 7 to get temporary nurse aides trained and tested as certified nursing assistants. (Christ, 6/8)

In other news about health workers —

San Francisco Chronicle:
California Can Deduct Union Dues From Medi-Cal Payments To In-Home Caretakers, Court Rules

California can deduct union dues from Medi-Cal payments to a caretaker who provides in-home care to an elderly or disabled person, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. A state law authorizing the deductions was challenged by anti-union groups representing eight providers of In-Home Supportive Services. The eight automatically became public employees when they began caring for their patients, with standard payroll deductions, including dues for the unions that represented the employees. They quickly resigned from the unions but, under the law, were required to continue paying dues until a specified withdrawal date that occurs once each year. (Egelko, 6/8)

Oregon Hospital COO Ousted After Criminal History Found

A recently hired Oregon hospital chief operations officer no longer holds the job after hospital officials say they learned he had been convicted and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of wire fraud and false representation of a Social Security number. Larry Butler Jr., who most recently held the COO position at Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, had been convicted for defrauding the Louisiana Health Cooperative Inc. and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Louisiana, The World reported. (6/8)

NBC News:
D.C. Chiropractor Who Stormed Capitol Arrested On Jan. 6 Charges

A D.C. chiropractor who stormed the halls of Congress on Jan. 6 was arrested on federal charges Wednesday as FBI special agents descended on his office just blocks from the Capitol. A source familiar with the case confirmed to NBC News the arrest of David Walls-Kaufman of the Capitol Hill Chiropractic Center. It was not immediately clear exactly where Walls-Kaufman was arrested. (Reilly, 6/8)

And more health care industry news —

Cerebral Spurs Congress Plea For DEA Probe Of Web Prescriptions

Congressional investigators are asking the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration what it’s doing to oversee mental health startups such as Cerebral Inc., calling the company’s business and prescribing practices “manipulative” and “aggressive,” according to a copy of a letter seen by Bloomberg. In the letter, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked the DEA about the startups, which have rapidly expanded by offering online consultation with clinicians as well as prescriptions for drugs such as Adderall and Xanax. (Mosendz and Melby, 6/8)

Detroit Free Press:
Independent Home Care Of Michigan Ordered To Pay $93K In Back Wages

A southeast Michigan home health care company is being ordered to pay $93,000 in back wages and damages to 23 workers after finding the company in violation of federal labor law. U.S District Judge Victoria A. Roberts on Wednesday found Independent Home Care of Michigan LLC, based in Fenton, liable to pay a total of $93,331 in damages to 23 home health care workers for failing to pay overtime wages.  Roberts released her findings on May 17 following a two-day bench trial, according to a U.S Department of Labor news release. (Gupta, 6/8)

Houston Chronicle:
Some Houston Hospitals Are Charging Private Insurers Up To 3x What Medicare Pays As Deductibles Rise

Hospitals in Texas on average are charging employer-sponsored insurers more than triple the amount that Medicare would pay, raising health care costs for companies and their workers, according to a new analysis. Rates set by Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly, often are used as benchmark for health care costs. Hospitals typically charge private insurers higher rates to make up for shortfalls from lower reimbursements paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the government program for the poor. But the analysis found that three of the Houston area’s biggest hospitals — Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann, and HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake — are billing insurers far more than what they need to break even — in fact double. (Carballo, 6/8)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Northside Hospital Fined Over $1M For Failure To Share Medical Prices

The federal government has fined Northside Hospital for violating patients’ rights to transparent health care price information, in what the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said was the first such fine nationwide. Starting last year, hospitals across the country were required by the CMS to post the prices of certain services on their websites. The effort was intended as a tool to help patients shop and plan for the cost of medical care. The lists are required to be posted in specific formats, including a consumer-friendly searchable list of 300 medical services. (Hart, 6/8)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Supply Chain Woes Hit Hospitals, Forcing Missouri To Alter Pharmacy Rules 

Missouri officials took steps this week to address a supply chain bottleneck affecting the availability of a chemical used by hospitals when CT scans are conducted. In an emergency rule filed Monday, the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance gave pharmacies more latitude in how they handle and package Iohexol, which is used to help doctors get a clearer view of what is occurring inside a body during a diagnostic scan. The rule change came after a June 1 meeting with state officials and representatives of the Missouri Hospital Association, which asked for assistance in ensuring the availability of the fluid. (Erickson, 6/8)

Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio GOP Lawmaker Claims Children’s Hospital Is 3 To 5 Clicks From Porn

Is there porn closely linked to Nationwide Children’s Hospital? Republican Rep. Gary Click seems to think so. Click’s claim happened during a committee discussion of House Bill 454. The bill, if passed, would ban the use of puberty blockers, hormones and gender reassignment surgery for children under the age of 18. A panel of Ohio children’s hospital representatives testified to their experience with gender-affirming care. Click, R-Vickery, asked the panel about a link between the Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s website and what he called a pornographic website. “Nationwide Children’s Hospital hosts only content intended for the pediatric audiences we serve,” spokeswoman Katelyn Scott said in a statement. The hospital is reviewing its resource listings. (Bammerlin, 6/8)

Lawmaker Takes On Insurance Companies And Gets Personal About His Health

Scott Wiener made a startling revelation at a spring legislative committee hearing: “I was in the hospital. I experienced the most intense abdominal pain that I could even imagine.” The Democratic state senator recalled crawling up the stairs to his landlord’s apartment last July to get a ride to the hospital. The San Francisco lawmaker also disclosed to his colleagues on the Senate Health Committee that he has Crohn’s disease, a chronic autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. His body, he said, wasn’t responding to his medication, which led to abscesses in his abdomen and a weeklong stay in the hospital. (Young, 6/9)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.


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