To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
RE: COVID-19 Updates: HHS Announces $2 Billion Quality Incentive Program for Nursing Homes; CMS Posts New County COVID-19 Test Positivity Rates; Additional Option for COVID-19 Testing
Date: September 4, 2020
Federal HHS Announces $2 Billion Provider Relief Fund
Nursing Home Incentive Payment Plans
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on September 3rd announced the details of a $2 billion Provider Relief Fund (PRF) performance-based incentive payment distribution to nursing homes. This distribution is the latest update in the previously announced $5 billion in planned support to nursing homes grappling with the impact of COVID-19. Last week, HHS delivered an additional $2.5 billion in payments to nursing homes to help with upfront COVID-19-related expenses for testing, staffing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) needs.
The incentive payment program is scheduled to be divided into four performance periods (September, October, November, December), lasting a month each with $500 million available to nursing homes in each period. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HHS will measure nursing homes against a baseline level of infection in the community where a given facility is located. CDC's Community Profile Reports (CPRs) include county-level information on total confirmed and/or suspected COVID-19 infections per capita, as well as information on COVID-19 test positivity. Against this baseline, facilities will have their performance measured on two outcomes:
- Ability to keep new COVID infection rates low among residents.
- Ability to keep COVID mortality low among residents.
To measure facility COVID-19 infection and mortality rates, the incentive program will utilize data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) LTCF COVID-19 module. Data from this module will be used to assess nursing home performance and determine incentive payments.
We will provide more details on the specific distribution method as they become available.
CMS Posts New County COVID-19 Test Positivity Rates
Used to Determine Your Routine Testing of Staff
Last week, CMS issued an interim final rule that requires nursing homes to routinely test staff for COVID-19 effective September 2, 2020. CMS issued QSO memo 20-38 describing how to comply with the new regulation and that routine staff testing is based on the county COVID-19 test positivity rate. CMS posted today a new excel file dated 9-2-20 that flags each county as green, yellow and red that should be used to dictate your routine testing frequency of staff that is based on data from August 20-August 26. Rates of county positivity are posted here. Please use this new file in place of the prior file in setting your routine testing frequency. CMS has indicated they will post an updated file on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month.
If your county is:
✅ green counties must test staff 1 x per month
📒 yellow counties must test 1 x per week
🚩red counties must test 2 x per week
Testing Partners– New Option
Nursing facilities and long term care facilities may partner or contract with hospitals, community health centers, ambulance/emergency medical services providers, clinical laboratories, or other entities able to provide COVID-19 testing services. In an effort to support members with surveillance staff testing, Mass Senior Care has added the following lab to the list of testing providers:
Concentric by Ginkgo – Saliva-based testing service - including kits, shipping logistics, processing, results, and the option for on-site coordination. Expected turnaround time of 2-4 days. For more information, please contact Jonathan Frist at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.concentricbyginkgo.com.