To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara M. Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: HHS Update on Provider Relief Fund for $2 Billion VBP Program; Updates to CMS County Data for COVID-19 Weekly Testing and Updated Methodology; DPH Weekly Call Reminder
Date: September 22, 2020
As noted in last week’s MSCA memo, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week released additional information on the $2 billion Provider Relief Fund (PRF) performance-based incentive payment distribution to nursing homes. The program will measure and pay nursing facilities based on performance related to COVID-19 infection and mortality rates taken directly from self-reported data entered into the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). We continue to encourage facilities to make sure that the weekly information they file with NHSN is accurate and to be aware that CMS may audit the reported data. Please click here for the CMS website where the weekly data is posted. Healthcentric Advisors (QIN/QIO) has been designated by CMS to provide technical assistance with NHSN data reporting for Massachusetts nursing homes. Please contact Dawn Hobill at firstname.lastname@example.org for technical assistance related to reporting.
CMS to Update County Data for COVID-19 Testing Weekly and Allow Use of State or County Data in Updated Methodology
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has updated the Excel file that flags COVID-19 positive test rates in counties. CMS modified the method for classifying a county as green, yellow, or red and expanded the measure to cover results over a 14-day period in each county instead of seven days. SNFs should use the color classification provided in the file. MA counties continue to remain in the green. In accordance with the Commonwealth’s testing guidance, nursing homes in EMS Region 3 should begin testing ALL staff every two weeks beginning THIS week unless a nursing home is already conducting weekly surveillance due to a previous positive staff result.
The revised methodology results in some red counties with rates >10% being reclassified to yellow:
- Green = Counties with test percent positivity <5.0% or with <20 tests in past 14 days
- Yellow = Counties with test percent positivity 5.0%-10.0%; OR with <500 tests and <2,000 tests/100k and >10% positivity over 14 days
- Red = >10.0% and not meeting the criteria for “Green” or “Yellow”
Posting Frequency: CMS also clarified that it will post county data weekly. It stated that facilities must check weekly and should pick one day of the week to check each week. They should document their plan for checking and document the dates used by CMS for the data in the top of the Excel file.
Using State or County Data: CMS has indicated on several national calls that facilities can use test positivity data released by their state or county if the data is more recent than the CMS data. The facility must document the source and date of the data being used.
DPH Weekly Call Reminder
The next weekly call with providers is scheduled for Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. These calls will include members of DPH’s Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, and Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management. This call is intended for long-term care facilities caring for residents with COVID-19.
Phone Number: 888-390-5007
Participant Code: 6826729