CMS Updates Guidance for Emergency Preparedness Regulations

Today, CMS posted a Quality, Safety, and Oversight Group (QSO) memo updating the State Operations Manual (SOM) Appendix Z that outlines emergency preparedness (EP) requirements. The SOM has been updated to reflect the revisions made within the 2019 final rule Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Regulatory Provisions to Promote Program Efficiency, Transparency, and Burden Reduction (CoPs) (CMS 3346-F). CMS has also added new guidance related to Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) outbreaks, including best practices, lessons learned, and general recommendations for planning and preparedness.
This guidance is effective immediately. CMS is currently working on relevant updates to the Emergency Preparedness Basic Surveyor Training Course which will be available at a later date.
The changes are extensive, and members are encouraged to review the complete QSO memo​ in full. AHCA/NCAL has also provided a high-level summar​y​ of the memo.

 

AHCA/NCAL Updates Medicare 3-Day Stay and Benefit Period Waivers Fact Sheet and FAQs

AHCA/NCAL recently updated the COVID-19-related 3-Day Stay and Benefit-Period Waivers for Medicare Part A SNF PPS fact sheet and frequently asked questions (FAQ) resource. Key updates to the file consist of a notification that the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), which can be extended in 90-day increments, was recently extended through at least April 21, 2021. Additionally, a link to an AHCA/NCAL 45-minute webinar on these waivers and 11 new AHCA/NCAL-developed FAQs providing additional clarifications on common waiver-related questions submitted are included.
Examples of topics covered in the updated fact sheet and new FAQs include:
  • ​Will Medicare Part A cover asymptomatic beneficiaries that have a positive COVID-19 test result or have received the COVID-19 vaccine and have had a reaction?
  • Various waiver-related coverage and billing scenarios.
Providers are encouraged to review these updates and share with applicable clinical and billing staff.

Information to arm you against vaccine hesitancy among older adults

As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out to assisted living and independent living communities — having not reached some of those communities yet — two new surveys shed some light on feelings about vaccination among older adults, messages that motivate them to get vaccinated, and the people and places to which they expect to turn when making a decision.

Although this research was not restricted to senior living residents, findings still may prove helpful to those working in the industry, and those they serve.

Find out more at https://bit.ly/3oLQAaS

Get Vaccinated Toolkit

AHCA/NCAL’s #GetVaccinated campaign encourages long term care staff and residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Providers and state affiliates may use the materials below to help communicate about the importance of vaccination as well as highlight progress. This digital toolkit includes a checklist of ideas, template letters to use with stakeholders, sample social media, and media prep material.

Find out more at https://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Pages/GetVaccinated.aspx

CMS Issues New Nursing Facility COVID Testing FAQs

CMS has released FAQs related to new guidance on testing in nursing facilities. The FAQs address long-standing questions posed from providers. The questions address various issues including false negatives with point of care antigen tests, triggering of outbreak status, testing of emergency medical personnel and clarification on turnaround time for tests. The FAQs can be found here

Trio of Webinars to Address Vital COVID Labor, Staffing, and Flu Issues

Long term and post-acute care providers can access a series of webinars this week on significant issues tied to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the traditional flu season, according to an update from the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

Find out more by going to http://www.providermagazine.com/news/Pages/2020/SEPTEMBER/Trio-of-Webinars-to-Address-Vital-COVID-Labor,-Staffing,-and-Flu-Issues-.aspx

Preparations for the Upcoming Flu Season

All eyes and resources in the long term care profession currently are focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, and rightfully so. This virus has spread through facilities like nothing seen before.
Unlike COVID-19, the flu season arrives like clockwork on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, in addition to the ongoing pandemic, flu season is looming just around the corner. Now more than ever, facilities need to be proactive in protecting their residents.
This article spotlights four areas for facilities to focus on for influenza prevention and control this fall, while also remaining in substantial compliance with the Focused Infection Control Survey from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Targeted COVID-19 Training for Nursing Homes.

Nursing home providers can now participate in an “unprecedented” infection control training program designed to help them better manage COVID-19 in their facilities.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released details about the program Tuesday. The program was originally announced in late July as part of an additional $5 billion in coronavirus relief funding for nursing homes.

The program, which is available immediately to all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes, is a tailored course that incorporates the most recent lessons learned by nursing homes during the ongoing pandemic. It also features best practices that frontline workers can implement to fight COVID-19 in their facilities, CMS Administrator Seema Verma explained during a press call Tuesday.

Read more at https://bit.ly/3llaby5

For more information or to register https://qsep.cms.gov/COVID-Training-Instructions.aspx

 

The pandemic has changed the ground rules for defining, measuring, and reimbursing quality.

While the COVID pandemic has changed much in post-acute and long term care, efforts to provide quality care and track outcomes, trends, and opportunities for improvement have continued unabated. Facilities didn’t swap quality measures for COVID care, they just added it to what they were already doing.
Yet the pandemic has put a spotlight on how quality is defined, measured, and reimbursed, and it has exposed what works and where changes are needed.
“It is crystal clear that our nursing home residents are a vulnerable population that should not be exposed to the risk of pandemic, either because they are sent to hospitals or emergency rooms [ERs] unnecessarily or because new patients with potential infections are allowed to come into a building that is not yet exposed to the infection,” says Rajeev Kumar, MD, CMD, FACP, chief medical officer at Symbria in Chicago.
“Hopefully, surveyors and CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] will work collaboratively with nursing facilities to minimize bad outcomes, rather than go on a witch hunt to find and use unfortunate outcomes to penalize nursing homes.”
Read more at