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CMS Information Related to COVID-19 Released June 1, 2020

June 04, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued three documents pertaining to COVID activities:

  • CMS Memo to State Survey Agency Directors, QSO-20-31-All
  • CMS Letter to Governors
  • Nursing Home Covid-19 Data

1.  CMS Memo to State Survey Agency Directors, QSO-20-31-All

Focused Infection Control Surveys and CARES Act Supplemental Funding

In March, CMS began requiring state survey agencies to conduct focused infection control surveys in all nursing homes. However, an average of only about 54.1% of facilities have been surveyed. CMS has informed states that completion of these surveys is a priority. States that have not completed 100% of their focused infection control nursing home surveys by July 31, 2020 must submit corrective action plans outlining how they will complete the remaining surveys within 30 days. Failure to meet this deadline or additional 30-day extensions could result in reductions of the state’s CARES Act FY2021 funding. See the chart here for more information.

Enhanced Enforcement for Infection Control Deficiencies

Since March, CMS has suspended enforcement on all deficiencies except for Immediate Jeopardy deficiencies.  Now it is expanding enforcement to “improve accountability and sustained compliance” by imposing some type of enforcement measure on deficiencies at lower levels of scope and severity. See the chart here for more information.

Quality Improvement Organization Support

CMS has refocused the Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) on combatting COVID-19.  The QIOs offer weekly National Infection Control Trainings;  provide direct assistance to around 6,000 small, rural nursing homes and other nursing homes in areas where access to care is limited; and provide technical assistance to nursing homes with a history of infection control challenges.  States can request QIO technical assistance targeted to nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks.  This assistance includes helping to create action plans, implementing specific steps to establish strong infection control, and training on PPE, cohorting residents, and transferring residents safely.  States can send their request to the Anita Monteiro, the Acting Director of the iQuality Improvement and Innovation Group at CMS:  anita.monteiro@cms.hhs.gov

2.  CMS Letter to Governors

CMS sent a letter to governors dated May 31, 2020, summarizing the data received through their new COVID-19 surveillance system, as well as the actions they are taking in their new memo, QSO-20-31.  CMS also directs governors to focus testing on nursing homes and other vulnerable communities – calling on each state to develop a comprehensive testing plan and submit that plan to the Department of Health and Human Services.

3.  Nursing Home COVID-19 Data

CMS released Nursing Home COVID-19 Data, a chart that provides facility-reported information for each State under CMS’s new reporting requirements.  The chart includes: total nursing home (NH) resident cases, NH resident COVID-19 cases per 1,000 NH residents, total NH resident COVID-19 deaths, NH  resident COVID-19 deaths per 1,000 NH residents, total NH staff cases, total NH staff cases per 1,000 NH residents, total NH staff deaths, and total NH staff deaths per 1,000 NH residents.  It also includes State Survey Data.  It reflects data entered into the system as of May 24, 2020.  

Total number of resident cases: 60, 439; total number of resident deaths: 25,923

Total number of staff cases: 34,442; total number of staff deaths: 449

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