COVID-19 Updates

PPE In Short Supply For Nursing Homes In Many States, Pres. Trump PERMANENTLY expands and keeps telehealth post COVID and other Covid updates


PPE In Short Supply For Nursing Homes In Many States, Report Indicates

Provider Magazine (8/4, Mendoza, 151K) reports, “Nursing homes in several states continue to have less than a one-week’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a new report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).” AHCA/NCAL, “using data from Johns Hopkins University…compiled a state-by-state breakdown of the positive COVID-19 test rate and number of nursing homes in those states.” The report’s second part “includes data that were released July 30, 2020, by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from required federal reporting by nursing homes across the country on their current supply of PPE,” which indicate that “many states still have a significant percentage of facilities without vital PPE, including N95 masks, surgical masks, and gowns.”

The Daily Mail (UK) (8/4, Kekatos, 5.27M) reports, “At least 33 US states have more than five percent of all coronavirus tests coming back positive, a new report reveals.” AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson said, “Governors and state health agencies, especially in these 33 states, need to take immediate action to protect our seniors and health care heroes by ensuring long term facilities have adequate supplies of PPE and staff support as well as facilitating expedited test results for our residents and caregivers.” He added, “We also need members of the public to do their part to help reduce spread by wearing a mask in public and continuing to practice social distancing. We all have a duty to defend our nation’s greatest generation and their essential caregivers.”

The Newark Times (8/4, Glover) reports Parkinson said, “The continued shortage of vital PPE supplies for nursing homes across the U.S. is a major concern especially for states with recent spikes in new COVID cases.”

Among other outlets also reporting are the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead (ND) (8/4, 44K), the Across Colorado Patch (8/4), the Bonner County (ID) Daily Bee (8/4), Vermont Business Magazine (8/4, 23K), and Alabama Today (8/4).

AHCA/NCAL Expects Reporting, Tracking Protocols For Federal Coronavirus Aid

The Washington Post (8/4, A1, Cenziper, Jacobs, Mulcahy, 14.2M) reports, “For-profit nursing home providers that have faced accusations of Medicare fraud and kickbacks, labor violations and widespread failures in patient care received hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘no strings attached’ coronavirus relief aid meant to cover shortfalls and expenses during the pandemic, a Washington Post analysis of federal spending found.” AHCA/NCAL “said the federal money was badly needed,” and “has reported that both nonprofit and for-profit nursing homes had been ‘on the verge of collapse’ during a deepening health crisis, faced with the increasing costs of supplies and personnel expenses and the loss of existing and potential residents.” The group also “said it expects reporting and tracking protocols.”

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (8/5, Brown) reports AHCA senior vice president of reimbursement policy Mike Cheek told The Washington Post, “For several months, all health care providers have been waiting for guidance on reporting and HHS’ approach to auditing and are anticipating significant oversight in the coming months.” Cheek added, “We support reasonable efforts to ensure this federal aid has been properly directed to providers to cover costs associated with addressing COVID-19 and potential losses.”

McKnight’s Senior Living (8/5, Novotney) and Fox News (8/4, Chakraborty, 27.59M) also report.

Advocates Warn Proposed Therapy Cuts May Have “Devastating Impact” On Providers

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (8/5, Brown) reports, “A proposal to cut 9% from Medicare payments for physical and occupational therapy under the federal government’s Proposed Physician Fee Schedule Rule for 2021 could potentially have a ‘devastating impact’ on providers if it goes into effect as presented, advocates warned Tuesday.” AHCA/NCAL “expressed disappointment in the proposed payment cuts for therapy services but also showed optimism about the proposal to permanently adopt some telehealth expansions from the COVID-19 pandemic under the rule.” In a statement to McKnight’s, AHCA/NCAL said, “Such dramatic cuts proposed in the midst of a pandemic that uniquely impacts older adults with multiple comorbidities is very concerning, as access to care from a variety of providers, including therapists, may be impacted at a time these beneficiaries are on the road back to recovery.”

Federal Judge Strikes Down Temporary Federal Paid Leave Restrictions

McKnight’s Senior Living (8/5, Novotney) reports, “A federal judge has struck down the Department of Labor’s restrictions on which workers can access a temporary federal paid leave program, according to court documents released Monday.” This decision “also will require health care employers to re-examine whether they must provide paid leave to certain employees and take steps to ensure that they have enough caregivers on hand to provide needed care.” In a statement to McKnight’s Senior Living, AHCA/NCAL said, “It’s important to keep in mind that like all other health care providers, nursing homes and assisted living communities have to delicately balance ensuring that there are enough caregivers to properly aid residents and patients, while also making sure sick employees do not create unnecessary, additional risks to residents. … We look forward to working with the Department of Labor once it announces how it intends to proceed following this recent decision.”

Florida Governor Considers Nursing Home Visitation

NPR (8/4, Allen, 3.12M) reports, “Officials in Florida say cases of the coronavirus are continuing to decline, an indication that efforts to halt the spread of the disease are working.” Florida Gov. Ron “DeSantis said he wants to begin allowing people who test positive for antibodies to visit family members in long-term care facilities.” The governor has “appointed a committee of advocates and officials to look at other measures to allow family members to visit nursing homes.”

The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (8/4, 742K) reports DeSantis said, “I think a lot of the family members understand that these are difficult circumstances. Clearly they would not want policies to be done that would lead to massive amounts of people in these facilities getting infected.” He added, “But I think that if you have a way forward, I think that would put a lot of people at ease, knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” Florida Health Care Association spokeswoman Kristen Knapp “said she recognizes that the state is trying to strike a difficult balance, but that if they approach different facilities with a personalized plan and consideration for disease spread in a certain area, she thinks it can be successful.”

Among other outlets also reporting are the Miami Herald (8/4, Wilson, Gross, 1.09M) and the Old Northeast-Downtown St. Pete (FL) Patch. (8/4, Scicchitano, 1.03M)


Questions Remain Over Long-Term Testing Supplies

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (8/5, Lasek) reports, “Now that some nursing home operators have begun receiving point-of-care antigen testing devices from the federal government, the question remains where they will obtain the supplies needed to comply with long-term testing requirements – and how they will pay.” All nursing homes in the US “are slated to receive the diagnostic equipment, starting with those in COVID-19 hotspot counties,” and “in states with a 5% or greater positivity rate, operators are expected to test all nursing home staff each week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid has said.” However, “the government isn’t planning to send more than the initial rounds of test kits;” rather, “facility operators are responsible for procuring additional tests directly from manufacturers or medical device distributors, said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, during a call with operators at the time of the announcement.”

Point-Of-Care Testing Instruments From Federal Government Coming At Right Time, Nursing Home Chain CMO Says

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (8/4, Berger) reports, “Due to the slow lab turnaround times for COVID-19 tests, delivery of point-of-care diagnostic testing instruments and tests from the federal government comes at the right time,” according to the chief medical officer of one nursing home chain. He said that “the pending delivery of point-of-care test devices to every nursing home in the country over the coming months ‘is very important news and not a moment too soon.’” He also said that “the process of sending out PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests to outside labs ‘has crumbled as turnaround times have [slowed] again to five or seven days or more, making them nearly useless,’” adding that he’s “very excited about the ability to have easy access to instant results for our residents and staff.”


President Trump Issues Executive Order Permanently Expanding Telehealth Services

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (8/5, Lasek) reports, “President Trump has issued an executive order that permanently expands telehealth services put in place during the pandemic. The move is part of a commitment to support Medicare beneficiaries, particularly in rural communities, the White House announced Monday.” CMS “is also supporting a permanent expansion, and has issued a proposed rule mirroring the White House’s order.” However, “Congress will need to approve any telehealth coverage extensions that go beyond helping patients in rural areas,” including “coverage of some doctor visits without a qualifying in-person consultation and broadened access to physical, occupational and speech language pathology services, McKnight’s has reported.”

Long-Term COVID-19 Health Care Costs May Be In The Billions, Experts Say

McKnight’s Senior Living (8/4, Novotney) reports, “More than 18 million people have been infected by coronavirus worldwide, about a quarter of them in the United States,” and health care experts predict “it will likely be years before the costs for those who have recovered can be fully calculated, according to Reuters interviews with about a dozen physicians and health economists.” The “experts point to the potential for billions of dollars in long-term health care expenses, as studies of COVID-19 patients continue to uncover new complications associated with the disease,” and “they say the costs stem from COVID-19’s toll on multiple organs, including heart, lung and kidney damage that will likely require costly care, such as regular scans and ultrasounds, as well as neurological deficits that are not yet fully understood.”

Multigenerational Study Identifies Opportunities, Challenges For Senior Living Providers In Areas Of Family, Finances, Health, And Purpose

McKnight’s Senior Living (8/5, Bonvissuto) reports, “A new multigenerational study by Edward Jones and Age Wave reveals challenges and opportunities for senior living providers in four areas: health, family, purpose and finances.” The study identified “a new definition for retirement that is more than simply the end of work,” as “the majority of U.S. retirees (55%) defined retirement as a new chapter of life filled with new choices, freedoms and challenges across the previously mentioned four areas. COVID-19 retirement effect.” In addition, the study found that “despite COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on older adults, they report coping far better than younger generations.”