To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: CMS Releases Visitation Guidance for Nursing Homes; CMS Clarifies Data Release Schedule for County Positivity Rates; Dementia Care Call; HHS Announces Method for Distribution of $2 Billion Provider Relief Fund
Date: September 18, 2020
CMS Releases Visitation Guidance for Nursing Homes
CMS has released S&C Ref: QSO-20-39-NH Nursing Home Visitation - COVID-19. This S&C memo provides new guidance for visitation in nursing homes during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The guidance provides reasonable ways a nursing home can safely facilitate in-person visitation to address the psychosocial needs of residents. In addition, CMS has updated uses for CMP and will approve the use of CMP funds to purchase tents for outdoor visitation and/or clear dividers (e.g., Plexiglas or similar products) to create physical barriers to reduce the risk of transmission during in-person visits.
CMS Clarifies Data Release Schedule for County Positivity Rates
CMS has clarified that data on county positivity rates will be release weekly by CMS, with no set day scheduled for each week. Previously CMS had indicated that this data would be released on the first and third Monday of each week. CMS will continue to modify and update the method to classify a county as green, yellow or red (facility need to use the color code) or a facility can use data on test positivity rate from the state if its from a time period that is more recent than CMS data. Currently MA data is updated on Wednesday nights. Nursing homes need to have a plan and process to check the CMS data every 7 days. It does NOT need to be checked more often and changing the frequency of testing only needs to happen when a nursing home checks the data according to its process and not immediately after CMS updates the data. Nursing homes can check for the most up to date CMS data here. Currently all MA counties continue to remain green. However, as indicated in a previous Mass Senior Care memo, nursing homes in MA EMS Region 3 should begin testing ALL staff every two weeks beginning next week unless a nursing home is already conducting weekly surveillance due to a previous positive staff result.
National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care and Quality Assurance
Performance Improvement – Dementia Care Call
The National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care and Quality Assurance Performance Improvement has scheduled a Dementia Care Call for Tuesday, September 22 from 1:30 to 3 pm ET. During this call, learn about the unique challenges facing nursing home residents living with dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic and best practices to support them. A question and answer session follows the presentations. Register for this call at Medicare Learning Network events.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) yesterday released additional information on the $2 billion Provider Relief Fund (PRF) performance-based incentive payment distribution to nursing homes. The $2 billion in incentive payments will be split into five distributions of up to $400 million. Four of the distribution will be based on month long performance periods from September 2020 through December 2020. The fifth distribution will be an aggregated four-month performance period of September 2020 through December 2020. For a facility to be eligible for an incentive payment, they must pass both criteria:
- Facility COVID infection rate below the rate in the county they are located in.
- Facility COVID death rate below a nationally establish performance threshold.
Please click here to read AHCA’s summary of the specific distribution method.