To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: DPH Releases Guidelines on POC Testing Devices; DPH and EOEA Release Updates to LTC Surveillance Testing and Reimbursement for ALR Staff Testing
Date: October 5, 2020
DPH Releases Guidelines on Point of Care Testing Devices
for Nursing Homes
Today, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality released guidelines on the use of Point of Care testing devices in nursing facilities. The guidance notes that, “At this time, antigen test results do not satisfy the testing requirements under the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Long-term Care Surveillance Testing guidance or the corresponding requirements set forth in MassHealth’s Provider Bulletin 148: COVID-19 Baseline and Surveillance Testing Requirements for Nursing Facilities.”
For additional resources, nursing homes are encouraged to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to learn more about their Guidance for Rapid Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2.
DPH and EOEA Release Updates to Long Term Care Surveillance Testing
Today, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality released updated guidance on surveillance testing to align with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) surveillance testing recommendations. The guidance updates the definition of staff, aligns the threshold metric with the CMS county (as opposed to the state’s EMS region) positivity rate used to trigger more intensive surveillance testing and the testing of previously positive individuals cleared from isolation. The updated guidance is effective October 15, 2020 and compliance with the testing program is required in nursing homes and rest homes.
In addition, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) has issued guidance to Assisted Living Residences (ALRs) regarding reimbursement for the costs associated with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for COVID-19 for the period October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. EOEA is recommending that ALRs follow the Long Term Care Surveillance Testing guidance issued by the Department of Public Health on October 5, 2020. If a new staff case is detected in the ALR community, EOEA will reimburse the testing of all staff at the ALR for a maximum of 2 tests per staff member per 30-day period. ALRs should review the full guidance which includes the calculation and process for reimbursement.