To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: HHS Issues First Distribution of Incentive-Based COVID-19 Relief Funds; Resumption of CNA Testing; CDC Releases New Information on Testing in Nursing Homes
Date: October 28, 2020
HHS Issues First Distribution of Incentive-Based COVID-19 Relief Funds
Today, HHS announced the first round of the $2 billion COVID-19 Infection Control incentive-based payments to nursing homes. This first distribution will total $333 million, with 313 facilities qualifying in Massachusetts for a total payment of $3.8 million. The $2 billion in incentive payments will be split into five distributions. 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.
Resumption of CNA Testing
Today, the Department of Public Health (DPH) released a memo authorizing its testing vendor, the American Red Cross (ARC), to resume Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) testing on or about December 1, 2020. The application and the Massachusetts Nurse Aide State Testing Guide can be downloaded from the ARC website. The American Red Cross will be implementing measures at the testing site to prevent the spread of infection, including screening all testing candidates prior to admission and requiring that masks must be always worn at the testing site.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) temporarily waived the section of its regulation that prohibits a nursing home from employing anyone as a nurse aide for longer than 120 days unless the aide has met the training and certification requirements at 42 CFR 483.35(d). DPH has likewise temporarily waived the state requirement that nurse aides complete training with an approved nurse aide training program within 90 days of hire. These waivers remain in place.
This week, the CDC released new information on testing in nursing homes through the frequently asked questions website. The new guidance addresses discordant test results (i.e. false positives and false negatives) and how nursing homes should handle these situations.
Among other information, the CDC addresses:
- Optimal frequency for testing residents and staff in response to an outbreak
- How to determine a false positive test result on an antigen device
- What action should be taken while waiting to confirm a false positive or negative
- What action should be taken once a false positive is confirmed
Providers are encouraged to review the new guidance as it applies to their testing program. AHCA/NCAL has also updated the FAQs on Testing in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Communities. The updates include information on the Abbott BinaxNOW shipments, further clarity on CMS testing requirements, as well as a new section on discordant results.