The Lead January 29, 2021

Top Stories:
CMS Mandatory Training Deadlines
IDPH/HFS Weekly Meeting Recap
Update on HB3360
Partners in Quality Virtual Visit Held with Rep. Wheeler, GreenFields of Geneva
Vaccinations Update
Legislative Leadership Team Announced
Federal Executive Order on Medicaid and Health Care Access

Assisted Living:
Assisted Living Update
Argentum Public Policy Institute

Nursing and Rehabilitation:
Member Spotlight: The Arthur Home

Independent Affordable/Subsidized Housing:
HUD Housing Update

CAST Releases New Guide on Resident Tech Support and Training

Opportunity to Participate in Age-Friendly Health Systems Action Community
CEO/ED Roundtable: Ethics and Equity in a Pandemic

Top Stories:

CMS Mandatory Training Deadlines
Alfonso Cano, Bureau Chief of Long Term Care at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), informed us yesterday afternoon that the Department has filed emergency amendments that amend the previous emergency rules on the CMS Mandatory Training for assisted living and sheltered care.

Communities now shall ensure that:

  • At least 50% of frontline clinical staff have completed the CMS Training by February 28, 2021.
  • 100% of the frontline clinical staff have completed the CMS Training by March 31, 2021.

If you have any questions, contact Ruta Prasauskas. 

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IDPH/HFS Weekly Meeting Recap
LeadingAge Illinois and the other associations continue our weekly Thursday meetings with the Illinois Departments of Public Health (IDPH) and Healthcare and Family Services (HFS).

Issues Discussed included:

  • Surge Staffing Program
  • Annual Surveys
  • Vaccinations
  • Infection Control Surveys
  • CARES Act Funding
  • Adult Protective Services

Here is a recap of the updates and issues discussed:

Surge Staffing Program:

  • LeadingAge Illinois asked if long term care facilities can be included in the program that was announced on January 18 for hospitals. HFS reported that at this time the program does not include long term care.
  • The State entered into four contracts with staffing agencies with the primary aim of ensuring hospitals, that have the capability of expanding bed capacity in the event of a surge, will have appropriate staffing.
  • Hospitals are paying the agencies when participating in the program.
  • HFS will consider discussing the potential of long term care facilities being able to enter into these contracts.

Annual Surveys:

  • All IDPH regions began scheduling annual surveys last week.
  • Regions are now handling annuals, complaints, infection control, and revisits.
  • They are random and unannounced.


  • IDPH wants to make sure all persons get the same vaccine in their doses. The Pfizer vaccine is being used in long term care. The general community preference is Moderna.
  • Jewel-Osco and Hyvee have partnered with Illinois. More pharmacies will be coming on board as well in the mass vaccination program.
  • If a staff member gets a vaccine then leaves the facility, it is best the get the second dose at the same facility. If a staff member happens to be terminated, that presents a unique issue.  Some providers have allowed that individual to come back and receive their second dose in that situation.
  • One of the town halls that included Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of IDPH, recently drew about 5,000 participants to hear her encourage healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
  • The CDC Toolkit on Vaccination Storage is available here.

Infection Control Surveys:

  • LeadingAge Illinois again raised the issue of the frequency and timing of these surveys, which take away from important resident care during a public health emergency.
  • IDPH reported that CMS Region V directs the infection control surveys. They come in randomly from CMS to IDPH.
  • If IDPH is in a facility for a complaint survey and they see there are positive cases, they may initiate an infection control survey, according to IDPH.
  • LeadingAge Illinois continues to raise survey issues in these meetings and in virtual meetings with legislators.

CARES Act Funding:

  • The reporting deadline extended to March 29.
  • The deadline for costs incurred are those prior to December, 2020. Certain categories of expenses that weren’t possible to be completed in 2020 (construction that could not start, supplies ordered that could not come, etc.) may be accepted as long as they were in a facility’s original budget.

Adult Protective Services:

  • Sue DeBoer from Adult Protective Services (APS) at the Illinois Department on Aging (DoA) reported that over 100 facilities have denied them access to come into the facility to interview residents who are alleged victims (financial exploitation, etc.). They are requesting access for their investigations.
  • The DoA General Counsel is creating a letter to explain why they need access and explain the procedures they are taking to come in safely.
  • The APS staff are not being COVID tested currently. The General Counsel is looking at how testing can be accomplished.
  • Catherine Counard, Chief Medical Officer at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), commented that from her medical perspective, anyone going into a long term care facility should be tested. She is also surprised that the Ombudspersons are not currently testing.

Each week, we bring questions to the table at these meetings with IDPH/HFS.  If you have questions you would like us to bring to the meeting for answers, contact Ruta Prasauskas. 

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Update on HB3360
HB3360 (See Senate Amendment #1) passed the Illinois General Assembly on January 13 during the “lame duck” session.   It has not, at this point, made it from the General Assembly over to the Governor’s Office for his consideration.   If the Governor signs the bill, it effectively becomes law.

Using points from the Nursing Facilities and CCRC Cabinets, we will be reaching out to the Governor’s Office, requesting a legal discussion on the impact this legislation would have on providers if it were to become law.

The Legislation:

  • Amends the Code of Civil Procedure to mandate prejudgment interest that begins to accrue from the date the defendant has notice of an alleged injury until the time of judgment, at a rate of 9% per year on the ultimate award.
  • The prejudgment interest payment would be in addition to the awarding of damages.

We will keep you updated on the status of this legislation and discussions related to it.  If you have any questions, contact Jason Speaks.

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Partners in Quality Virtual Visit Held with Rep. Wheeler, GreenFields of Geneva
This week, we had a Partners in Quality Virtual Visit with State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-50th District; North Aurora), Assistant Minority Leader.  Greenfields of Geneva, a Friendship Senior Options community, was able to tell their story and experiences over the last year. It was the 9th virtual visit we’ve had this month.

Special thanks to the following members for making this visit a success:

  • Stephen Yenchek, President and CEO of Friendship Senior Options
  • Michael Flynn, CFO, Friendship Senior Options
  • Tony Madl, Executive Director, GreenFields of Geneva

Since beginning his time in the House in 2015, Rep. Wheeler has visited members through the Partners in Quality program and this is the latest relationship-building meeting to keep the legislator current on industry issues.  In addition to his leadership position, he is also a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), which makes decisions on rulemaking.

Friendship Senior Options has about 830 staff with about 220 at GreenFields.  The Geneva community has independent living, assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing.  Stephen Yenchek, President and CEO of Friendship Senior Options, gave the representative a background on the organization and an overall update on how COVID-19 has impacted the industry.

Tony Madl, Executive Director, GreenFields of Geneva, talked about the mental, physical, and cognitive toll the pandemic has had on residents.  “Residents over the last months have not been able to benefit from dining together or participating in activities together, explained Tony.   He also gave a detailed summary of their experiences in the vaccination program, something the organization and LeadingAge Illinois have had multiple discussions with the State and legislators on in the past couple weeks.

Michael Flynn, CFO, Friendship Senior Options, gave the representative an idea of the tremendous financial impact COVID-19 has had on providers.  He explained the significant costs incurred for PPE, testing, and other items that have slowed revenue streams.

“I feel your pain. You guys were on the frontlines,” said Rep. Wheeler.  “I wouldn’t know this without having the experiences from experts like you.”  The representative’s district director immediately followed up with GreenFields after the meeting and we will continue to educate the representative on issues providers and ask for his support.

If you would like to host a virtual visit with your legislators at the state or federal level, contact Jason Speaks. 

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Vaccinations Update
Today’s update includes:

  • LeadingAge/VNAA letter on LCP IL Resident Inclusion in Pharmacy Partnership
  • Retail Pharmacy Program
  • More Information

Karen Messer, President and CEO of LeadingAge Illinois, continues to speak to the media on how COVID-19 has impacted members.  In her second interview with WBEZ recently, she discussed provider experiences with the vaccination program.  “The distribution of the vaccines to long-term care settings, where the most vulnerable population resides, is not fast enough and it must, must improve,” said Karen.

Letter to White House COVID-19 Task Force and CDC on LPC IL Resident Inclusion in Pharmacy Partnership
LeadingAge and VNAA sent a letter to Dr. Rachelle Walensky (New Director of CDC,) Jeffrey Zients (White House COVID Task Force Coordinator,) and Dr. Bechara Choucair (White House COVID 19 Task Force Vaccine Coordinator) regarding the issue of Independent Living residents of Life Plan Communities (LPCs) being excluded from the Pharmacy Partnership (PP) clinics in some states.

Retail Pharmacy Program:
The Retail Pharmacy Program will be announced soon from the federal level. Once it’s up and running, anyone will be able to go into the CDC website, find a pharmacy (including as many as 40,000 pharmacies nationwide and LTC pharmacies) and arrange an onsite clinic. LeadingAge Illinois provided IDPH with a listing of pharmacies that members work with at their request.

More Information:

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Legislative Leadership Team Announced
As the Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) kicks into high gear in February, committee assignments have yet to be announced, but the legislative leaders have announced their leadership teams.

House leadership positions include:

  • Speaker: Emanuel Chris Welch (D-7th District; Westchester)
  • Majority Leader: Gregory Harris (D-13th District; Chicago)
  • Deputy Majority Leaders:
    • Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-92nd District; Peoria)
    • Mary Flowers (D-31st District; Chicago)
  • Assistant Majority Leaders:
    • Jaime Andrade, Jr. (D-40th District; Chicago)
    • Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (D-33rd District; Chicago)
    • Robyn Gabel (D-18th District; Evanston)
    • Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24th District; Cicero)
    • Jay Hoffman (D-113th District; Belleville)
    • Natalie A. Manley (D-98th District; Romeoville)
    • Delia C. Ramirez (D-4th District; Chicago)
  • Majority Conference Chairperson: Carol Ammons (D-103rd District; Champaign)
  • Majority Caucus Whips:
    • Kambium Buckner (D-26th District; Chicago)
    • Deb Conroy (D-46th District; Villa Park)
    • Will Guzzardi (D-39th District; Chicago)
    • Theresa Mah (D-2nd District; Chicago)
    • Aaron M. Ortiz (D-1st District; Chicago)
    • Lawrence Walsh, Jr. (D-86th District; Joliet)
  • Minority Leader: Jim Durkin (R-82d District; Burr Ridge)
  • Deputy Minority Leaders:
    • Dan Brady (R-105th District; Normal)
    • Tom Demmer (R-90th District; Dixon)
  • Assistant Minority Leaders:
    • Thomas Bennett (R-106th District; Pontiac)
    • Avery Bourne (R-95th District; Litchfield)
    • Tim Butler (R-87th District; Springfield)
    • C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-100th District; Jacksonville)
    • Deanne Mazzochi (R-47th District; Westmont)
    • Ryan Spain (R-73rd District; Peoria)
    • Keith Wheeler (R-50th District; North Aurora)
  • Minority Conference Chairperson: David Welter (R-75th District; Morris)
  • Minority Floor Leader: Mark Batinick (R-97th District; Plainfield)

Senate Leadership positions include:

  • President: Don Harmon (D-39th District; Oak Park)
  • Majority Leader: Kimberly Lightford (D-4th District; Hillsdale)
  • Assistant Majority Leader/President Pro Tempore: Bill Cunningham (D-18th District; Chicago)
  • Deputy Majority Leader: Laura M. Murphy (D-28th District; Des Plaines)
  • Assistant Majority Leaders:
    • Linda Holmes (D-42nd District; Aurora)
    • David Koehler (D-46th District; Peoria)
    • Antonio Muñoz (D-1st District; Chicago)
  • Majority Caucus Chair: Mattie Hunter (D-3rd District; Chicago)
  • Deputy Majority Caucus Chair: Jacqueline Collins (D-16th District; Chicago)
  • Majority Caucus Whips:
    • Omar Aquino (D-2nd District; Chicago)
    • Napoleon Harris, III (D-15th District; Dolton)
    • Michael Hastings (D-19th District; Frankfort)
  • Minority Leader: Dan McConchie (R-26th District; Lake Zurich)
  • Deputy Minority Leader: Senator Sue Rezin (R-38th District; Morris)
  • Assistant Minority Leaders:
    • Senator Steve McClure (R-50th District; Jacksonville)
    • Jason Plummer (R-54th District; Vandalia)
  • Minority Floor Leader: Jason Barickman (R-53rd District; Bloomington)
  • Minority Caucus Whip: Jil Tracy (R-47th District; Quincy)

Just a refresher on the legislative process and reading bills:

  • The Bill Process. Click here to see the process legislation moves through during the legislative session.
  • Bill Reading. The language underlined in the full text of a bill is the language that would be added to the Act if the bill passes both chambers and is approved into law by the Governor.

If you have any questions, contact Jason Speaks. 

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Federal Executive Order on Medicaid and Health Care Access
A new Executive Order (EO) directs federal agencies to review and roll back any rule or administrative action that “limits Americans’ access to health care, and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access.” CMS may try to roll back some of the work requirement and other ‘restrictive’ 1115 waivers, and may leverage the EO to expand access to services our members provide. The EO also creates a special enrollment period starting in February for new and current Exchange enrollees.  See this Fact Sheet for more.

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Assisted Living:

Assisted Living Update
We have a few quick updates today:

The Numbers:
Lynda Kovarik, Division Chief of Assisted Living at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), told LeadingAge Illinois this week that there are currently 522 assisted living establishments with 14 more pending licensure.  There are 26,371 units.

We have been meeting with IDPH for some time on making amendments to the Assisted Living and Shared Housing Establishments Code.  We will be meeting again next month on our rules proposal and intent to initiate rulemaking this year.  We will keep you updated on the progress.

Upcoming Education:
Virtual Assisted Living Bootcamp 1.0
April 20 & 21
Lynda Kovarik, Division Chief of Assisted Living, IDPH
Matt Murer and Meredith Duncan, Attorneys at Polsinelli

Additionally, our Assisted Living Cabinet meets next month to discuss these issues, legislative/regulatory priorities for 2021, and more.

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Argentum Public Policy Institute
Don’t miss this chance to join your colleagues to influence change on Capitol Hill at the premier senior living advocacy event in the nation.  The Argentum Public Policy Institute will bring key policymakers together from Capitol Hill and the White House and offer you a chance to guide the future of senior living. Join Argentum and hundreds of senior living advocates from across the nation for this must-attend virtual event February 22-24! Take a look at the agenda and register now.  

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Member Spotlight: The Arthur Home
The Arthur Home is a 53-bed skilled nursing home, located in Arthur.  The area is also home to the largest and oldest Amish community in Illinois. The home offers skilled rehabilitation, intermediate care and at times adult day.  They currently have 36 residents and 75 full and part-time employees.  Over the years, we have had Partners in Quality visits there, giving legislators the chance to tour and meet the people of the unique, quality community.

Tom Stephenson, Administrator, has been a licensed nursing home administrator for over 45 years.  He started out as a cook and gradually worked his way up to an administrator.  He considers his staff and residents family.  “What brought me to the job was family. Our community is the compassionate care we provide to our residents and the overwhelming support we get from our community,” said Tom. “In my career, I am most proud of being able to survive in this industry for 45 years and working with some of the most amazing people in the industry.”

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Independent Affordable/Subsidized Housing:

HUD Housing Update
Today’s updates include:

  • HUD Secretary-Nominee
  • COVID-19 Supplemental Payments to Hit Accounts Next Week
  • Presentation on new HUD Section 202 NOFA
  • Housing Advisory Group to Discuss Vaccine Messaging
  • More Information

HUD Secretary-Nominee:
The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing on Thursday on President Biden’s nomination of U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) to the HUD Secretary. In her testimony, Rep. Fudge emphasized her eagerness to work across the aisle, the need for a significant expansion of the supply of affordable housing, and, on COVID-19, to “alleviate that crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge.” LeadingAge submitted a letter of support for Rep. Fudge’s nomination.

COVID-19 Supplemental Payments to Hit Accounts Next Week:
HUD told LeadingAge that the second round of COVID-19 Supplemental Payments, or CSPs, will start flowing to accounts next week. While some payments may be delayed, the majority will be paid as early as Monday. Because HUD has residual funds leftover after the second round, there will be a third round of CSPs, which HUD will announce through a Notice similar to the first two rounds. In the meantime, providers are recommended to document COVID-19 specific expenses to list on the HUD application for the third round, when available.

Presentation on new HUD Section 202 NOFA:
On Tuesday, February 2, from 1-2 p.m. CST, Tom Davis, Director, HUD Office of Recapitalization, will join LeadingAge for a presentation on the new HUD Section 202 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA).  There will be time for questions from participants as well. HUD announced the competition, or NOFA, for $150 million in new Section 202 funding on January 12. Applications are due May 26. HUD expects to make about 45 awards. Register for the February 2 session here.

Housing Advisory Group to Discuss Vaccine Messaging:
Join the next LeadingAge Housing Advisory Group call to hear from a specialist on vaccine messaging. Advance questions are still welcome for the special guest, who will discuss strategies for building vaccine confidence at housing communities. LeadingAge is continuing these regular Housing Advisory Group calls on Mondays at 11:30 a.m. CST for affordable housing providers to hear the latest housing updates and discuss challenges and solutions with one another. In your LeadingAge member account, you can subscribe to the “Housing Advisory Group” within “Online Subscriptions,” or you can reach out to Juliana Bilowich or Linda Couch to join the group.

More Information:
LeadingAge Vaccination Clinic Tips and Tools for Housing Providers

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CAST Releases New Guide on Resident Tech Support and Training
Given the significant and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and the social isolation it brought on older adults served by LeadingAge members, LeadingAge CAST has released a new Resident/Client Technology Support and Training Guide.  Check out this Tech Time article highlighting the new resource.

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