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CMS Issues Broad Waivers of Requirements for SNFs

March 31, 2020

The Trump administration has issued an unprecedented array of temporary regulatory waivers for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) as part of its efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Among the "Flexibilities" effective immediately:

  • Non-SNF buildings may be temporarily certified as a SNF.

  • Temporary rooms may be set up in facilities for resident care in emergencies and situations needed to help with surge capacity.  Examples of rooms that may be used include activity rooms, meeting/conference rooms, and dining rooms.

  • Facilities may move residents within a facility, or transfer to another LTC facility, solely for the purpose of cohorting and separating residents with and without COVID-19.

  • The 3-day prior hospitalization requirement for coverage of a SNF stay is waived.

  • Timeframe requirements for MDS assessments and transmission are waived.

  • Submission of staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal system is waived.

  • PASRR assessments are suspended for 30 days.

  • The right of residents to participate in-person in resident groups is waived.

  • A LTC facility can temporarily transfer its COVID-19 positive residents to another facility, such as a COVID-19 isolation and treatment location, without issuing a formal discharge.

  • CMS has waived the requirement that a facility not employ a nurse aide for longer than four months unless they meet training and certification requirements; although not waived is that the individual working as a nurse aide be competent to provide nursing and related services, and the requirement that facilities ensure that nurse aides are able to demonstrate competency in skills and techniques necessary to care for residents' needs.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth review from Consumer Voice of these emergency rules.

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