Affordable Care Act and LTC Dining Services

Published in FSD Update

Reflections for the AHF conference.

We’ve all heard about how hospital operators think the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect hospital foodservice, but no one is really mentioning the role long-term care facilities will play in the equation.

For a recap: Under ACA hospitals are tasked with reducing readmissions. As such, hospitals will not be reimbursed for the second visit of patients within 30 days of discharge for certain conditions and procedures.

So where do LTC facilities come into play? That’s exactly what Daphne Gulick, senior director of food services for Masonic Village of Elizabethtown (Pa.) spoke about at the 2013 AHF conference in New Orleans.

Many times patients, especially the elderly, are discharged from a hospital to an LTC facility. If a patient in an LTC facility is readmitted within 30 days of discharge, the hospital will not be reimbursed for the second visit. This is again only for certain conditions/procedures, but the number of these will be increasing in the coming years.

That makes it even more important for hospitals and LTC providers to work together to create a cohesive patient care program so they can reduce the likelihood of readmission.

For Gulick, that meant having an open dialogue with the local hospitals and ensuring that nutrition education begins first in the hospital and then is carried into her facility. Gulick advises LTC foodservice providers to get ahead of the curve, so to speak, as these locations are not mentioned in the ACA. She says it’s important for LTC locations to partner with local hospitals to provide a continuum of care for patients.