COVID-19 Updates

AHCA/NCAL Asks Governors To Take Action Before Additional Outbreaks Of COVID-19 Affect LTC


AHCA/NCAL Asks Governors To Take Action Before Additional Outbreaks Of COVID-19 Affect LTC

Provider Magazine (7/14, Connole, 151K) reports, “The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) on Tuesday asked the nation’s governors to take ‘urgent action’ before the imminent outbreak of more COVID-19 cases in nursing facilities and assisted living communities amid a summer spike in coronavirus cases among the general public.” To address this issue, “Mark Parkinson, AHCA president and chief executive officer, and Scott Tittle, NCAL executive director, wrote to the National Governors Association (NGA) and state governors warning states about the immediate threat to long term care residents and staff, but also of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and significant delays in getting testing results for long term care residents and caregivers.”

Bloomberg Law (7/14, Pugh, Subscription Publication, 4K) reports, “The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living asked the National Governors Association in a letter to speed up state lab processing times for [COVID-19] tests; provide more personal protective equipment, particularly N-95 masks; and direct state public health agencies to work closely with facilities on resuming resident visitations.”

NBC News (7/14, Chiwaya, Siemaszko, 6.14M) reports the group “warned that the spike in new COVID-19 cases could ‘lead to a dramatic increase in cases in long term facilities.’” In the “letter to the National Governors Association, the group said speeding up testing is key to preventing another calamity.”

In a separate article, NBC News (7/14, 6.14M) reports the letter to the governors said, “Currently, nearly 20 percent of nursing homes report to [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that they either do not have or have less than a one-week supply of PPE, and more than half of assisted living communities have less than a two-week supply of N-95 masks and gowns. … N-95 masks are still not available and were not included in the FEMA shipments to nursing homes.”

Among other outlets also reporting are: McKnight’s Senior Living (7/15, Bonvissuto), McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/15, Brow), a separate article by McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/15, Brown), the Boston Herald (7/14, Cohan, 410K), and Grio (7/14, 132K).


Next Week, 2,000 SNFs Will Receive Point-Of-Care COVID-19 Testing Devices From Feds

Provider Magazine (7/14, Connole, 151K) reports, “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Admiral Brett Giroir on Tuesday said point-of-care COVID-19 testing devices will be delivered to 2,000 skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) next week, with the aim to eventually have every one of the more than 15,000 SNFs in the country enabled with such machines.” Admiral “Giroir said the devices can perform 20 tests per hour, and Verma said the technology will be used for both staff and residents at nursing facilities.” In response “to the news, Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said the development is welcome news for long term care residents, staff, and providers.”

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/14, Berklan) reports, Parkinson said, “Repeated, ongoing testing is the only way we are going to beat this virus. … Regular testing of nursing home and assisted living staff is a vital step in controlling the spread of COVID-19, but is not effective without obtaining timely test results. For nursing homes and assisted living communities to protect residents and staff, we need on-site testing with reliable and rapid results.”

Skilled Nursing News (7/14, Flynn) reports Parkinson said in a statement, “The facilities that will receive these machines will be able to conduct on-site testing and receive timely results. … Recently, 87% of nursing homes and assisted living communities said obtaining test results back from lab companies is taking multiple days or more to process .”

Inside Health Policy (7/14, Mills, Subscription Publication) also reports.


Universal COVID-19 Testing Of LTC Residents “Critical,” Research Indicates

UPI (7/14, Dunleavy) reports, “‘Universal’ testing of nursing home and assisted living residents is ‘critical’ to identifying asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 and curbing virus transmission, according to the authors of an analysis published Tuesday by JAMA Internal Medicine.” The analysis conducted of “coronavirus testing protocols at 11 long-term care facilities in Maryland revealed that checking only those residents with symptoms of COVID-19 – cough, diarrhea, fever and shortness of breath – yielded 153 confirmed cases within a population of 893, said researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,” but “subsequent testing of all 893 residents of these care homes – regardless of whether they had symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 – identified another 354 confirmed cases, the researchers said.” UPI mentions the AHCA/NCAL letter to the National Governors Association that requested help to expedite test results and provide on-site testing with rapid results.

Skilled Nursing News (7/14, Spanko) reports, “The Johns Hopkins team concluded that the 11-building study illustrates the need for additional testing resources at long-term care facilities during the novel coronavirus pandemic.” The team stated, “These results underscore the importance of universal testing because symptom-based approaches may miss a substantial number of cases. … Unrecognized asymptomatic cases among residents could perpetuate transmission within facilities.”


Testing Of LTC Residents, Staff Falls Short

Stateline (7/15, Van Ness, 2K) reports, “Residents and staff at long-term care facilities make up nearly 45% of U.S. coronavirus-related deaths,” but “testing – widely considered to be the most important element of stopping the spread of the virus – falls far short of what experts say is needed.” Just “seven states – Connecticut, Maryland, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico and New York – have ongoing, required testing of residents, staff or both.” AHCA/NCAL’s chief medical officer David Gifford said, “We knew early on, before the virus even came to this country, that people over 80 with pre-existing conditions were most susceptible. … We’ve been asking for testing.” Texas Health Care Association president and CEO Keith Warren said, “Academic research shows with an increase in community spread you see potential for spread into a facility.” Arizona Health Care Association director David Voepel said, “CMS recommends that you do weekly testing of staff. … A lot of facilities don’t have that ability because that’s a lot of money going out.” Furthermore, Florida Health Care Association spokesperson Kristen Knapp said, “I think testing is really critical. It helps our facilities with making clinical decisions.”


Citations, Fines, Without Assistance, Will Not Protect LTC Residents, Staff From Coronavirus, AHCA Says

Vox (7/14, Matthews, 2.27M) reports on nursing home regulations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. AHCA’s Cristina Crawford told Vox in a statement, “It’s time to recognize that when nursing homes receive citations, it’s a failure of CMS and the survey process. Citations and fines without assistance will not help us keep residents and staff safe from this virus.” Crawford added, “Independent research shows COVID-19 outbreaks in long term care are not related to quality of care, past infection control and many other factors. It is a critical point to include in any piece along these lines. This research shows the prevalence of COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities is correlated to the COVID-19 rate in the community, the size of the facility, and proximity to an urban area.”




Medication Access For LTC Residents May Be Limited Without Financial Relief For Pharmacies, Coalition Says

McKnight’s Senior Living (7/14, Bonvissuto) reports, “Leaders from 12 of the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacies sent a letter to leaders in Congress on Friday asking for $350 million in financial relief to meet challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Senior Care Pharmacy Coalition members “cited significant revenue losses and higher costs due to the pandemic in serving assisted living communities, nursing homes and other communal settings where older adults live.” Their letter says, “Due to the pandemic, LTC pharmacy revenues have dropped 25% while costs increased 6% from March to May. … Without financial relief, residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may face interruptions in access to essential, life-saving medications.”




HCBS Settings Rule Deadlines Extended

McKnight’s Senior Living (7/15, Bowers) reports, “Citing concerns related to the coronavirus, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Tuesday said it would give states an additional year to comply with a settings rule related to the provision of home- and community-based services to older or disabled Medicaid beneficiaries.” Now, states “have until March 17, 2023, to complete the implementation of activities required to demonstrate compliance with settings criteria that were part of a final rule issued in 2014.” Several “assisted living communities provide HCBS to their residents through Medicaid waivers,” but “under the rule…certain settings – including locations in buildings in which inpatient institutional treatment is provided, settings in buildings on the grounds of or adjacent to a public institution, or settings that isolate individuals from the broader community – are presumed ineligible for the waiver program unless they meet a heightened standard of proof.”


Senior Housing Move-In Acceleration Reaches Highest Level Since Late March, Survey Demonstrates

McKnight’s Senior Living (7/14, Novotney) reports, “Pent-up demand from residents and families as well as the easing of COVID-19-related move-in restrictions freeing up a backlog of pre-pandemic planned move-ins has pushed move-in acceleration to its highest level since late March, according to data collected from the most recent Executive Survey results from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.” The Wave 9 survey “included responses collected between June 22 and July 5 from owners and executives across 85 senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities.” The survey also indicates “that the number of senior housing and care organizations reporting a deceleration in move-ins was at its lowest since the pandemic began.”


Hundreds Of Michigan Nursing Home Workers Joining “Strike for Black Lives” Protest

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/14, Brown) reports, “Hundreds of nursing home workers in Michigan are joining what they call a nationwide walkout to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the United States.” Specifically, “the SEIU Health care Michigan announced that workers from six nursing homes in Detroit will be striking on Monday as part of the national ‘Strike for Black Lives’ Movement.” There will be a national “Strike for Black Lives” that is “held in more than 25 cities across the country.”


Among Patients With Feeding Tube Placement For Parkinson’s Disease-Related Dysphagia, One-Third Discharged To Eldercare Facility, Study Shows

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (7/14, Lasek) reports, “Fully a third of patients who have certain feeding tubes placed for Parkinson’s disease-related dysphagia are discharged to an eldercare facility, a new outcomes study has found.” The researchers found that “among 56 patients admitted to the hospital from home, 32% were moved to a nursing home after the procedure, reported” the study’s first author. Additional “outcomes included a median survival of 422 days, and a 30-day mortality rate of 6%.” The findings were published in the journal Movement Disorder Clinical Practice.