In the News

What’s in Biden’s Budget

CNN | By Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby
President Joe Biden released his annual budget Thursday, outlining his policy priorities for the year ahead.
Make no mistake, the proposed budget has no chance of making it through the Republican-controlled House. But Biden’s plan will frame upcoming political battles on Capitol Hill, where the GOP has yet to unveil its own spending plan.
Biden’s budget comes out after the US hit the debt ceiling, a cap set by Congress, earlier this year. The Treasury Department is now taking extraordinary measures to allow the government to keep paying its bills. But the country could start to default on its obligations over the summer if Congress doesn’t address the debt ceiling before then. Republicans are calling for some spending cuts in exchange for voting to raise the cap, while the White House does not want to negotiate on resolving the debt limit drama.
 Many of the provisions in the budget rehash the president’s earlier proposals to expand the social safety net and to pay for it by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. He wants to restore the expanded child tax credit and make permanent enhanced Obamacare subsidies, both enacted in the American Rescue Plan in 2021. And he wants to provide universal free preschool, make college more affordable and establish a national paid family and medical leave program, which did not make it into prior packages when the Democrats controlled Congress over the past two years.
Biden’s spending plan also calls for shoring up Medicare and capping the price of insulin for all Americans.
The administration says these proposed policies will result in a nearly $3 trillion reduction in the deficits – the difference between what the government spends and its revenue – over the next decade.
Here’s what’s in Biden’s budget proposal

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How Home Health Providers Can Prepare For The Survey Processes

By Joyce Famakinwa 

It’s more important than ever for home health organizations to be ready for the survey process.

In order to be prepared, providers will need to be armed with strategies that will help them come out on top.

“Even the most prepared operations are blindsided by unexpected interpretations and requirements,” Lynn Smith, senior manager on the compliance and regulatory team at SimiTree, said during a recent webinar.

 Broadly, there are a number of different kinds of surveys that are relevant to home health providers, including state surveys, the deemed status accreditation survey and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) validation survey.

“The state survey is where your State Department of Health would come and do your survey,” Smith said. “Also, there are deemed status accreditation surveys. This is when you’re using an accrediting body to do your survey. The CMS validation survey is when a CMS team, or contractor, conducts an independent survey within 60 days of the state survey to compare the results. Sometimes you may see a CMS validation survey that comes after an accrediting body does your survey.”

Prior to the survey process, it is important to make sure that the entire staff has a strong understanding of the current home health conditions of participation (CoPs).

Along these lines, providers should incorporate this education into an orientation program for new staff members. There should also be rolling updates for the current staff.

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Hospital-at-Home Steps out of the COVID-Era Through New Atrium Health, Best Buy Partnership

Fierce Healthcare | By Annie Burky

Both Atrium Health and Best Buy Health employed their respective at-home care programs during the COVID-19 pandemic when hospitals were a hotbed for the virus and providers were scrambling to provide care.

Today, the duo announced a partnership to develop a new hospital-at-home offering for a post-pandemic world.

Atrium Health launched its virtual inpatient care program to treat COVID patients from the comfort of their own homes. Best Buy Health has grown its remote care enterprise solution through a series of acquisitions and partnerships with companies like Current Health and TytoCare.

Rasu Shrestha, M.D., chief innovation and commercialization officer at Advocate Health, Atrium’s parent company, believes that the new collaboration will illuminate at-home care and expand Atrium’s current offering.

“This transition that happens from discharging a patient from a hospital to the void of their home is the dark side of the moon: It's disconnected, confusing, expensive,” Shrestha told Fierce Healthcare. “What we've been doing in the past is working through our hospital home program and manually putting together a lot of these devices. By working with Best Buy Health, we're developing the seamless connected care experience and an opportunity to truly scale this.”

Since launching its hospital-at-home program in March 2020, Atrium has met 6,300 patients at home while redirecting 25,000 hospital bed days, according to Shrestha. “In the context of traditional brick-and-mortar facilities, that’s a 100-bed hospital,” he noted.

Atrium’s at-home hospital program was initially designed for COVID and COVID-presumptive patients. Now, the suite of solutions is meeting a growing cadre of patients diagnosed with chronic cardiac conditions, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, asthma, infections and other medical and postoperative conditions.


Who is Most at Risk for Long COVID?

A new study of more than 800,000 people has found that in the U.S., COVID "long haulers" were more likely to be older and female, with more chronic conditions than people in a comparison group who—after getting COVID—did not have diagnosed long COVID or any of the symptoms associated with long COVID. The findings are published in the March issue of Health Affairs.

The national study, which focused on people with private insurance or Medicare Advantage coverage, aims to inform public health and clinical care by advancing the understanding of who gets long COVID.

As one of the largest studies of long COVID in the U.S. to date, in terms of the number and diversity of people studied and the length of time symptoms and diagnoses were followed, the study solidifies many previous insights about the demographics and clinical profile of people most likely to get sick.

It also provides new information to consider about the complex interaction of COVID-19 in patients with previously diagnosed chronic illnesses.

"This work in a large population helps to address the question of who is more at risk of long COVID," said Zirui Song, associate professor in the Department of Health Care Policy in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, lead author of the article.

"This may help clinicians and health care organizations screen, monitor, and treat patients more effectively. It may also help individuals, who know their own medical history, better assess their risk of long COVID and the value of protecting against getting COVID-19 in the first place," Song said.

The study's findings also indicate that symptoms of long COVID can appear or persist much longer after initial infection than many previous studies had suggested.

Most earlier work showed a peak of long COVID symptoms and diagnoses within the first six months of a person's initial COVID-19 diagnosis, the authors note, but the new research shows another, smaller peak around one year, which the authors note was significantly longer than the follow-up period of most initial studies.

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Exercise Found to Decrease Suicide Attempts in Those with Mental and Physical Illness

A new study from the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine found patients with mental or physical illness were able to successfully adhere to exercise regimes despite previous thinking, resulting in decreased suicide attempts.

The findings cast doubt on the misconception that patients suffering from mental or physical illness are not motivated to participate in a physical exercise regime, which has similar efficacy to antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy in the treatment of depression. It's effect on suicidal behaviors, however, was unclear.

"This misconception has led to primary care providers under-prescribing exercise, resulting in further deterioration of patients' mental and physical health," says Dr. Nicholas Fabiano, a psychiatry resident and lead author of the study with medical student Arnav Gupta.

"The findings of this study 'debunk' this belief as exercise was well tolerated in those with mental or physical illness. Therefore, providers should not have apprehension about prescribing exercise to these patients."

Under the supervision of Dr. Marco Solmi and Dr. Jess Feidorowicz from the Department of Psychiatry, Fabiano and Gupta evaluated 17 randomized control trials with over 1,000 participants to deduct their findings, which are published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

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