COVID-19 Updates

Resources To Aid Understanding Of COVID-19 Testing Coverage, Payment



CMS Has Released Resources To Aid Understanding Of COVID-19 Testing Coverage, Payment

Provider Magazine (9/22, Connole, 151K) reports, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released information to help states, nursing facilities, and other providers understand the sources of Medicare and Medicaid coverage and payment for COVID-19 testing.” According to AHCA/NCAL’s latest COVID-19 update, “among these resources is the Coverage and Payment for COVID-19 Testing in Nursing Facilities flow chart, which details testing coverage for nursing facility residents.” AHCA/NCAL has summarized this resource, and additional info is available here.

CMS Now Calculates COVID-19 County Positivity Rate Using 14 Days Of Data

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/23, Brown) reports, “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid has modified its methodology used for classifying county-level COVID-19 data that determines how often nursing homes will have to test staff members for the disease.” AHCA/NCAL “detailed the changes following the latest county-level data update in a blog post Monday.” CMS expanded this “measure to include 14 days of data from counties, instead of the previous seven days, in order to use a ‘greater amount of data to calculate percent test positivity and improve the stability of values.’”

Federal, State Governments Must Put Full Weight Behind Supporting Long Term Care, Parkinson Says

In a piece for Provider Magazine (9/22, 151K), AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson overviews the current status of COVID-19, and what must be done in the future. Parkinson says, “Caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living communities have done everything in their power to protect our most vulnerable from COVID-19.” He adds, “Despite unprecedented challenges and delayed support early on, they have bravely answered the call of duty and have saved thousands of lives.” Parkinson urges, “Federal and state governments must put their full weight behind supporting long term care. We must take action today so we can confidently continue to fight COVID-19 and prepare for our future.”


SNFs May Not Be Making Best Use Of Depression, Restorative Nursing Categories One Year After PDPM’s Implementation

Skilled Nursing News (9/22, Flynn) reports, “In the months leading up to the implementation of the Patient-Driven Payment Model, the overhaul of Medicare reimbursement for skilled nursing facilities that was implemented last year, several factors emerged as crucial areas for thriving under the new system.” Each facility’s Medicare rate “is determined by a formula that draws from five care components: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, non-therapy ancillary (NTA), and nursing,” and how well SNFs “captured resident needs – and documented them under each of those components – determines their reimbursement for Medicare fee-for-service patients.” One resident need “critical to capture was the treatment of depression among SNF residents, which one expert described as vital to success under the new system,” but a webinar held by an operating and consulting firm noted that “providers have not made use of the depression and restorative nursing categories, both of which could mean they are ‘leaving money on the table.’”


Federal Rules On Nursing Home Visitation Generally Take Precedence Over State Requirements, Federal Official Says

Skilled Nursing News (9/22, Spanko) reports, “The federal government’s sweeping new rules requiring nursing home visitations in most cases generally usurp state-developed requirements, a top official confirmed this week, but Washington is continuing to work with state governments to iron out any significant areas of conflict.” Director of the CMS division of nursing homes Evan Shulman said Monday in a call with industry stakeholders, “Generally speaking, state guidelines cannot conflict with federal requirements. …That’s just a general rule applying to all requirements.”

Research Indicates Four In 10 Health Care Workers Who Test Positive For COVID-19 Do Not Have Symptoms

HealthDay (9/22, Preidt, 17K) reports that research indicates “four in 10 health care workers who test positive for COVID-19 don’t have symptoms, which means they could unknowingly spread the disease to co-workers and patients.” The findings were presented at an online meeting of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and are scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

First Wave Of COVID-19 Vaccinations To Go To Essential Workers Who Will Receive Check-Ins From CDC

USA Today (9/22, Weise, 10.31M) reports that as the US “gears up for a massive immunization effort to begin as soon as a coronavirus vaccine is available, health officials are planning the details of the rollout.” In order “to track reactions in real-time, the first people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will get daily email and text messages” from the CDC “the first week after their shot asking how they’re feeling.” USA Today adds, “The first wave of immunizations are expected to go to up to 20 million Americans classified as essential workers.”

Study Highlights One LTC Facility’s Most Helpful Strategies, Biggest Challenges During Pandemic

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/22, Lasek) reports, “Test, isolate, communicate: Those are the lessons learned by a 100-bed nursing home that managed to get an early COVID-19 outbreak under control in part due to quick strategizing by clinical staff.” One West Virginia rehab and LTC facility’s chief medical director said that “despite the tragedy of loss and an early lack of information, efforts following the first identified infection helped to limit viral spread and keep the community’s average monthly mortality stable.” A study of the facility’s “infection control response, published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, fully details the most helpful strategies and the biggest challenges the community faced.” One of the “best practices and lessons learned” was using a “community-centric approach rather than a hospital-centric approach to managing the outbreak.”

Democratic Senators Release Report Documenting Troubles US Nursing Homes Continue To Face Amid Pandemic

The Washington Post (9/22, Englund, 14.2M) says a new report by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) “documents the troubles that continue to plague U.S. nursing homes as they try to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and it faults the Trump administration for not providing adequate assistance even after the devastating effects of the disease became clear last spring.” The report blamed “the administration for incomplete data collection, inadequate shipments of personal protective equipment, a failure to provide quick and reliable testing for the novel coronavirus, and insufficient financial disbursements to address staff shortages.” Casey said Tuesday, “The crisis in our nursing homes, which residents and workers and their families are experiencing every day, demands immediate action.”

For Senior Living Industry Moving Forward After COVID-19, Creativity Is Imperative, Survey Shows

McKnight’s Senior Living (9/22, Bonvissuto) reports, “Creativity in design, financing, construction, operations and marketing is imperative to the senior living industry moving forward post-COVID-19, according to the results of a survey of for-profit senior living companies.” Architectural design firm Perkins Eastman conducted a survey that “found that the view of the industry is optimistic, with an eye toward action and innovation.” In terms of “market and societal shifts since the pandemic, senior living averaged a score of 7 on a desirability scale of 1 to 10,” and some respondents “stressed the importance of marketing the desirability of senior living, including socialization and safety, adding that they are finding demand remains strong, and in some cases, has increased, during the pandemic.”