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Potential Changes to Medicaid Long-Term Care Spousal Impoverishment Rules: States’ Plans and Implications for Community Integration

To financially qualify for Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS), an individual must have a low income and limited assets. In response to concerns that these rules could leave a spouse without adequate means of support when a married individual needs LTSS, Congress created the spousal impoverishment rules in 1988. Originally, these rules required states to protect a portion of a married couple’s income and assets to provide for the “community spouse’s” living expenses when determining nursing home financial eligibility, but gave states the option to apply the rules to home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers.
Section 2404 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), changed the spousal impoverishment rules to treat Medicaid HCBS and institutional care equally from January 2014 through December 2018. Congress subsequently extended Section 2404 through March 2019. This issue brief answers key questions about the spousal impoverishment rules, presents 50-state data from a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation survey about state policies and future plans in this area, and considers the implications if Congress does not further extend Section 2404.

Nursing Facilities, Staffing, Residents and Facility Deficiencies, 2009 Through 2016

This report provides information on recent trends in nursing facilities in the United States, drawing on data from the federal On-line Survey, Certification, and Reporting system (OSCAR) and more recent Certification and Survey Provider Enhanced Reports (CASPER). We use these databases to provide information on nursing facility characteristics, resident characteristics, facility staffing, and deficiencies by state from 2009 through 2015. This data enables policymakers and the public to monitor and understand recent changes in nursing facility care in the United States and help highlight areas of ongoing concern for current and future policy making.

Key Issues in Long-Term Services and Supports Quality

This issue brief discusses four key issues related to long-term services and supports (LTSS) including institutional and home and community-based services (HCBS) quality, highlighting major legislative and policy changes over the last 30 years since the passage of the Nursing Home Reform Act.

Medicaid’s Role in Nursing Home Care

This infographic highlights Medicaid’s role for nursing home care. It includes information about the nation’s growing long term care need and the role Medicaid plays as the primary payer for nursing home care. It also discusses the potential impact of proposals to limit federal Medicaid financing.

Reading the Stars: Nursing Home Quality Star Ratings, Nationally and by State

This issue brief presents national and state-level analysis of nursing homes based on the Five-Star Quality Rating System, recently updated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help consumers compare nursing homes when selecting one for themselves or their family members. The issue brief finds that more than one-third (36%) of the nation’s 15,500 nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid received relatively low ratings of 1 or 2 stars (out of a possible 5 stars). In 11 states, at least 40 percent of nursing homes in the state have 1- or 2-star ratings. In 23 states, however, at least half of the nursing homes have 4- or 5- star ratings. This issue brief discusses relevant policy considerations regarding nursing home quality—a serious issue in light of the vulnerability of the nursing home population and recent reports of problems arising from inadequate staffing, fire safety hazards, and substandard care.

Improving the Financial Accountability of Nursing Facilities

This report examines nursing facility expenditures to assess relative spending increases in areas such as nursing services, administrative costs, and profits. Using California as a case study, it explores reimbursement by cost category and a standard medical loss ratio (MLR) as potential policy options to improve nursing facility financial accountability and care quality.