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COVID-19 Updates

May 01, 2020

1.  Additional Government Action

President Trump held a press conference on April 30 during which he made a number of announcements regarding steps the federal government is taking related to nursing homes and COVID-19.  

  • The Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes will be formed.  Its focus will be to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemic and provide independent recommendations to help inform immediate and future responses to COVID-19 in nursing homes.  The Commission will include industry experts, clinicians, medical ethicists, administrators, academicians, infection control and prevention professionals, family members, resident/patient advocates, state and local authorities and others.  Members will be selected through a nomination process. The Commission is expected to start sometime in May.
  • CMS has provided guidance regarding the $81 million in supplemental funds provided in the CARES Act for State Survey Agencies.  States should use the money to 1) complete focused infection control surveys of nursing homes by July 2020; 2)  increase complaint surveys; and 3) perform “reopening” surveys of facilities with previous COVID-19 outbreaks to make sure there are Infection Control systems in place if there is another outbreak.  The money can also be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for surveyors.  
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will distribute packages of PPE to all 15,400 nursing homes in the country.  The PPE packages will include masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection for seven days. The amount of PPE provided will be based on each facility’s staffing and PPE usage rates. By July 4, all facilities will receive 2 set of packages, amounting to 14 days’ worth of PPE. Distribution starts next week.

2.   Regulatory Changes 

  • CMS has waived additional nursing home Requirements of Participation as part of its stated goal of giving providers more flexibility in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus.  These blanket waivers apply to certain parts of regulations regarding physician visits and services, Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement, in-service training for nurse aides, information sharing for discharge planning, and clinical records.  Consumer Voice will provide a summary of these waivers next week.
  • An interim rule mandating that nursing homes report COVID-19 related data to CDC, as well as residents and families, will be released by CMS some time over the next few days. The rule is expected to require reporting of information such as number of cases, number of deaths, PPE supplies, access to testing, staff shortages, and more. As soon as the interim rule is published, Consumer Voice will provide advocates with a review and initial analysis.
  • Update 5/1/2020 - The interim rule for reporting of COVID information by nursing homes mentioned in the recent COVID-19 Updates was just filed with the Office of the Federal Register. It will be published in the Federal Register on May 8. You can read the rule here.
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