Nursing Industry Hit With Cuts
The nursing industry has faced some hard times over the last year and has had to deal with more than its share of budget cuts. Nurses also deal with unrealistic expectations, extreme working conditions, and intense pressure. Additionally, nursing professionals have also had to make do with financial resources seemingly shrinking by the day.
These harsh financial conditions have impacted many aspects of the nursing profession, as you might imagine. Everything from nurses’ salaries and benefits to nursing home liability has taken a hit. Likewise, most facilities must adapt to an increasingly untenable situation.
The Nursing Industry Cuts
The most recent cuts to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) have severely affected these organizations. Consequently, access to essential nursing care services has become more challenging.
The specifics of the cuts reveal just how dire the situation is. A whopping 15% slashed the reimbursement of physical and occupational therapy rates of Medicare Part B. This cut applies to services “wholly or partially” provided by physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs).
To make matters worse, this latest round of cuts comes on the heels of a recent rule proposed by the CMS. The rule included a 4.6% reduction of the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM).
Finding the Right Balance
Some believe there could be a balance between providing the necessary access to care, managing budgets, and keeping nursing care personnel happy. But this will require making significant staffing investments.
Among the most vocal proponents of finding such a balance are Aegis Therapies’ Mark Besch and Westminster Communities’ Bot Zantua out of Florida. The senior specialist for government affairs and director of rehabilitation operations, Besch and Zantua, suggested that therapy providers can find ways to enhance care availability and keep their staff happy, even as they manage their budgets effectively.
Zantua feels that achieving this balance requires a concentrated effort in investing in the staff. For her, clinical excellence is crucial for driving operations. Thus, there is an urgent need to invest in employees that comprise any facility’s lifeline.
Zantua further emphasized the need to develop quality care teams. For care facilities to get the results they need, she strongly feels it is necessary to invest in compliance and education.
Service Reduction Not the Answer
Bot Zantua feels that reducing services isn’t a feasible option. Even with the 30% cuts in federal reimbursement rates, she thinks the way forward is to strategically plan and analyze data. Likewise, doing this will provide patients with the most informed decisions.
Her strategy seems to be paying off, as Westminster Communities has increased its therapy services despite the reimbursement cuts. Distinguishing itself as a “life plan community,” Westminster offers various services. These services include independent and assisted living, nursing care, rehabilitation, and therapy. The community provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy as part of its therapy services.
Reducing the Impact of the Cuts
Aegis Therapies’ Mark Besch proposes some solutions for minimizing the impact of the recent cuts. Besch suggests that smaller rural providers that rely heavily on assistants are at a severe disadvantage. In contrast, larger providers with a more varied pool of therapists have more options available.
Besch proposes assigning all physical and occupational therapies to a registered therapist and modifying therapists and therapy staff scheduling. However, Besch feels that making cuts to an industry still trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic is ill-advised.
About Midwest Insurance Group
Midwest Insurance Group is a risk retention group developed by Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services in response to the unique needs of the healthcare industry, particularly that of senior living facilities. With rising premium costs and difficulties in obtaining coverage from the traditional professional and general liability insurance market, Midwest Insurance Group represents a viable, long-term insurance alternative for the senior living sector, giving members complete control over costs and claims management. Midwest Insurance Group is reinsured with Lloyd’s of London, and A rated by Demotech.