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April 12th COVID-19 Update

New updates pertaining to the COVID-19 emergency continue to be announced by both the state and federal government on a regular basis. The latest developments for providers of long-term/post-acute care (LTPAC) and senior services are outlined below.

As a reminder, LeadingAge NY continues to convene weekly webinars on Mondays at 11 a.m. to address emerging questions on COVID-19. A recording of our most recent webinar, held on April 11th, is available here, and a list of the items shared by LeadingAge NY staff in the webinar chat can be accessed here. If you have questions for next week’s update or would like the access information, please contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

DOH Urges Providers to Engage in Project Firstline Training

The Department of Health (DOH) has issued an Advisory reminding providers that the DOH Bureau of Healthcare Associated Infections (BHAI), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is implementing Project Firstline: CDC’s National Healthcare Workforce Infection Prevention and Control Training Collaborative. Click here for more information.

CMS Updates Health Care Personnel Vaccination Mandate Guidance

On April 5th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued updated guidance on its health care staff vaccination requirements. The revisions can be found in the general guidance applicable to all covered providers and in the provider-specific memoranda. They principally clarify expectations on survey. Click here for a review of the updates.

PRF Late Reporting Requests for Reporting Period 1

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is providing an opportunity for providers that failed to file a timely Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Report for Period 1 (funds received through June 30, 2020) to request to report late if specified extenuating circumstances were the cause. The extenuating circumstances that warrant a request to report late include:

  • Severe illness or death – a severe medical condition or death of a provider or key staff member responsible for reporting hindered the organization’s ability to complete the report during the Reporting Period.
  • Natural disaster – a natural disaster occurred during or in close proximity to the end of the Reporting Period, damaging the organization’s records or information technology. 
  • Lack of receipt of reporting communications – an incorrect email or mailing address on file with HRSA prevented the organization from receiving instructions prior to the Reporting Period deadline.
  • Failure to click “Submit” – the organization registered and prepared a report in the PRF Reporting Portal but failed to take the final step to click “Submit” prior to the deadline.
  • Internal miscommunication or error – internal miscommunication or error regarding the individual who was authorized and expected to submit the report on behalf of the organization and/or the registered point of contact in the PRF Reporting Portal.
  • Incomplete Targeted Distribution payments – the organization’s parent entity completed all General Distribution payments, but a Targeted Distribution(s) was not reported on by the subsidiary.

HRSA’s intent was to notify providers considered non-compliant for Reporting Period 1 with details on how to submit a Request to Report Late Due to Extenuating Circumstances. The form providers need to complete and the process they need to follow is described on a dedicated page on the HRSA website here. The requests are only being accepted until April 22nd. Providers may not utilize the Request to Report Late Due to Extenuating Circumstances process to request an opportunity to make edits or adjustments to an already submitted report. Please contact the Provider Support Line at 866-569-3522 for assistance regarding revising a submitted report.

Nursing Home and Adult Care Facility (ACF)/Assisted Living (AL) Updates

CMS Announces Termination of COVID-19 Emergency Waivers

CMS notified stakeholders last week that it will be terminating various 1135 COVID-19 emergency blanket waivers affecting nursing homes, inpatient hospices, intermediate care facilities, and end stage renal disease facilities. According to QSO 22-15, the waivers will be terminated in two batches, with the first batch terminating in 30 days from the issuance of the memorandum, on May 7th, and the second batch terminating in 60 days from the issuance of the memorandum, on June 6th. Click here for more information.

DOH Issues Dear Administrator Letters to Nursing Homes and ACFs Regarding Ongoing Efforts to Provide Vaccinations

Last week, DOH issued two Dear Administrator Letters (DALs) reminding nursing homes and ACFs of the requirement to offer or arrange for primary COVID-19 vaccination as well as next and booster doses for both staff and residents. Click here for more information.

Clarifications Regarding Recent Advisory to Limited Service Laboratories

As reported last week, DOH issued an updated guidance document, dated April 1st, addressed to Clinical Laboratories and Limited Service Laboratories (LSLs). The guidance, which impacts certain members that have LSLs, announced some Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS) reporting requirements that went into effect on April 4th. LeadingAge NY had inquired about the implications of the guidance for nursing homes and ACFs. Click here for a review of the clarifications we received from the Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program (CLEP).

Community Transmission Rates

Although the data can be cumbersome to find on the CDC website, health care providers should seek out the COVID-19 Community Transmission Rates (not Community Levels that also appear on the CDC site) to determine the frequency of routine staff testing. As of early this week, all counties in the state, with the exception of Chautauqua County, were in the red (high transmission) or orange (substantial transmission) categories. The link to the Community Transmission Rates map on the CDC site is here. LeadingAge NY also posts the map on a weekly basis here (please refresh your browser to ensure that you are viewing the most recent posting).

Training on NHSN Event-Level Forms

The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is moving away from the standalone Excel tool designed to aid nursing homes in compiling the data needed to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination status for residents and staff. Instead, it is shifting to enhanced “event-level forms” that are built into the Weekly COVID-19 Vaccination Module. NHSN will be offering a training webinar on the change on Tues., April 19th at 2 p.m. The link to registration is available here. A set of slides available here describes the event-level forms and provides instructions for importing the data from the Excel tool. A step-by-step guide for using the event-level forms is posted here.