COVID-19 Updates



Interim Final Rule For SNFs, COVID-19 Reporting Issued By CMS

Provider Magazine (5/1, Connole, 151K) reported, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an interim final rule with comment period that revises a previous regulation (§ 483.80) establishing explicit reporting requirements for long term care (LTC) facilities to report information related to COVID-19 cases among facility residents and staff.” In its highlights, “the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said the new reporting requirements are applicable on the effective date of this interim final rule, which is the date of the publication at the Office of the Federal Register.” Among the new requirements for nursing facilities is the mandate that they “electronically report information about COVID-19 in a standardized format specified by the Secretary [of Health and Human Services], which will rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health care Safety Network (NHSN) portal that went live on April 29 with the new LTCF COVID-19 module.”




By End Of 2020, HHS Intends To Issue Monitoring Statement Regarding Critical Incidents Related To Medicaid Beneficiaries In Assisted Living Communities, GAO Says

McKnight’s Senior Living (5/1, Bowers) reported, “The Department of Health and Human Services expects to issue a policy statement by the end of 2020 that addresses the monitoring and reporting of ‘critical incidents’ – such as abuse, neglect and exploitation – involving Medicaid beneficiaries who live in assisted living communities, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Thursday.” This “impending interpretive guidance was noted in a 40-page report to HHS Sec. Alex Azar that conveyed, among other points, that HHS had not addressed one of three recommendations made in a January 2018 GAO report, ‘Medicaid Assisted Living Services: Improved Federal Oversight of Beneficiary Health and Welfare is Needed.’” According to the National Center for Assisted Living, 48% “of assisted living communities are Medicaid-certified, and approximately 16.5% of assisted living residents rely on Medicaid to cover their assisted living services.”


Federal Measures Announced Last Week “Important First Step” To Ensure Support For Long-Term Care Facilities, Parkinson Says

McKnight’s Senior Living (5/1) reported American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living president and CEO Mark Parkinson was among a group of long-term care advocates “invited to the White House on Thursday, when Trump announced the formation of a Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes, the upcoming shipment of two weeks’ worth of personal protective equipment to each of the country’s 15,400 Medicaid- and Medicare-certified nursing homes, and other news.” Parkinson called “the plan announced Thursday ‘an important first step forward to ensure long-term care facilities receive the vital support needed during this unprecedented public health crisis.’”

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (5/1, Berklan) reported Parkinson “thanked administration officials for their support and said that the day’s announcements sent ‘a clear message about the important role of long-term care in the national health care system and our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.’” Parkinson also “said that the focus needs to stay on long-term care residents and staff, and that facilities will need ‘more PPE, testing and resources’ because ‘long-term care facilities face an uphill battle in stopping this virus.’”

NPR (4/30, Jaffe, 3.12M) also reported on Trump’s announcement, and Parkinson’s response.


Parkinson More Hopeful About Testing In Long-Term Care Facilities

ABC News (5/1, 2.97M) reported that this week, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated nursing home residents – even those not showing symptoms – as a top priority for testing, along with first responders and other health care workers.” Prior to “Monday’s CDC action, available tests would have been tough to find for nursing home residents that lacked symptoms, said Mark Parkinson of the American Health Care Association.” According to Parkinson, “What we’ve learned over the last two months is that if you’re not a priority level one, you might as well be a priority level thirty, because there was only enough testing capacity for priority level ones.” Additionally, “Parkinson said he is now more hopeful,” and “with greater access to testing and the potential for faster processing, he said he wants to see more states make universal testing a top priority.”


Required Admission Of Patients With COVID-19 Into Nursing Homes May Have Cost Unnecessary Lives

USA Today (5/2, Robinson, Barchenger, Powers, 10.31M) reported that “on March 29, as New York and other states began ordering nursing homes to admit medically stable residents infected with the coronavirus, national trade groups warned it could unnecessarily cost more lives.” Specifically, the American Health Care Association and its affiliates said at the time that “the health directives put ‘frail and older adults who reside in nursing homes at risk’ and would ‘result in more people going to the hospital and more deaths.” USA Today says, “A month later, it appears government officials should have heeded the dire call to pursue different pandemic emergency plans,” as “the deadly virus has spread like wildfire through many nursing homes across the Northeast, and state officials are scrambling to better protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19.”




Federal Reserve: Main Street Lending Program Will Be Expanded

McKnight’s Senior Living (5/1, Novotney) reported, “The Federal Reserve on Thursday said it would expand loan offerings and qualification rules for its forthcoming $600 billion Main Street Lending Program.” This “venture is intended to reach small and mid-sized businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Specifically, “the central bank agreed to open the program up to companies with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenue.”


Senior Housing Long-Term Prospects Likely Still Sound Despite Pandemic, Expert Says

Senior Housing News (4/30) reported that although the “pandemic is expected to cut into senior housing operators’ bottom lines and lead to near-term cap rate expansions…the industry’s long-term prospects are still likely sound, according to a new report from commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle.” The report’s author from JLL said “the industry’s long-term fundamentals remain strong.” He said, “I think once we get through this, the data will show that seniors living in seniors housing communities were better off from a safety and care perspective than those living alone.”


Warren, Markey, And Maloney Seek COVID-19 Info From Large Senior Living Providers

Senior Housing News (5/1, Regan) reported, “Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) this week sent a letter to eight of the nation’s top 10 largest senior living providers, plus three others, requesting responses to questions related to Covid-19.” Their “letter asks recipients to answer 18 questions by May 8 covering how they’re responding to Covid-19.” According to SHN, “It’s not immediately clear how the data will be used once it’s collected, or if the effort could result in more federal oversight for the senior living industry.”


Experts Suggest SNF Operators Maintain Continued Contact With Insurers During Pandemic

Skilled Nursing News (5/3) reports on expert recommendations for skilled nursing operators to communicate with their insurers during the pandemic. According to one health plan CEO, “SNFs have to make sure that, in addition to reporting on their cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to families and the public, they’re communicating openly with their insurers on what’s going on.” According to another consulting expert, “in addition to the fact that insurers are looking for information, there’s another good reason for SNFs to make sure that they’re staying on top of communicating with their managed care partners: the need to document everything for billing purposes.”

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