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Dec. 15th COVID-19 Update

New COVID-19-related updates for providers of long-term/post-acute care (LTPAC) and senior services continue to be shared on a regular basis by both state and federal authorities. The latest developments are discussed 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 Dec. 14th, is available here. If you have questions for next week’s update, please send them to Ami Schnauber, and be sure to check your email for the access information, or contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

Highlights from CDC Webinar for Providers on Pfizer Vaccine

LeadingAge NY and LeadingAge National staff participated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Clinical Partner Call: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine webinar on Sun., Dec. 13th. Click here for highlights from the webinar and useful resources for all providers.

Nursing Home COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics to Begin as Early as Dec. 21st

On Dec. 10th, the Department of Health (DOH) provided a webinar for nursing homes regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and its distribution and administration to residents and staff. Many issues were discussed, and even more questions were posed, all of interest to members on the long term care continuum. Click here for more information.

NYC Enrolls Health Care Providers in City Vaccination Program 

On Dec. 8th, New York City (NYC) issued a letter to health care providers, including physicians’ offices, pharmacies, and other entities, inviting them to engage in enrollment in the NYC COVID-19 Vaccination Program. This is intended for health care provider entities with capacity and interest in delivering the vaccine.

Home care and hospice agencies with the capacity to do this are invited to enroll. Enrolling requires signing up in the Citywide Immunization Registry (CIR) and documenting doses delivered. Providers may bill insurers for administration of the vaccine, but not the vaccine itself. See NYC’s Dec. 8th letter, as well as this overview regarding enrolling in the CIR, to prepare for NYC provider distribution of the vaccine. LeadingAge NY confirmed with NYC staff that long term care facilities in NYC are not included in this enrollment effort, as they will be covered by the federal vaccination program, the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care (PPLTC). For more information on the CIR and the COVID-19 vaccine enrollment process, click here.

New York State Requirements More Stringent Than CMS on Testing When Awaiting CLIA Certificate of Waiver

Despite flexibility granted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the ability to begin conducting COVID-19 testing once submitting an application for a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver, New York has stricter requirements. Click here for more information.

State Telehealth Survey Closes Dec. 15th

DOH is conducting a survey of all health care providers to gain knowledge of providers’ experiences using telehealth during the COVID-19 emergency. The Department will use the results of this survey, which closes on Dec. 15th, to inform post-pandemic telehealth policy development. Click here for more information.

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

DOH Issues Deficiencies for Late HERDS Reports and PPE Stockpile Shortfalls

As reported last week, many nursing home members received notices of deficiency from DOH identifying failures to satisfy State personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile requirements, and many ACF and nursing home members received notices alerting them to failures to file timely Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) surveys, including filings that were only one minute late. Members with legitimate reasons or mitigating factors in relation to PPE shortfalls or late HERDS filings may want to seek reconsideration from DOH. The process for doing so varies depending on whether the facility is a nursing home or an ACF. Click here for more information.

Nursing Home Infection Control QIP Distribution

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has shared some additional data regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Nursing Home Infection Control Quality Incentive Program (QIP) payment calculation. The new information makes it possible to verify whether a facility’s infection rate exceeded the county infection rate used by HHS during the September or October performance periods and makes it easier to understand how payment amounts were calculated. LeadingAge NY sent a file with the data to nursing home CFOs on Dec. 14th. Members who did not receive it should contact Ken Allison at kallison@leadingageny.org.

NHSN Training

The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) has scheduled a training webinar for COVID-19 vaccination data reporting that is currently being developed. The new modules will allow for reporting of COVID-19 vaccination data for health care personnel working in long term care facilities and residents of long term care facilities. More information about the modules will be available after Dec. 20th at this link. The training will be held on Dec. 22nd at 1:30 p.m. Capacity is limited, and registration is required (here).

The CDC will also be holding one more training on the changes made in November to how positive residents are categorized for purposes of reporting into the NHSN COVID-19 Long Term Care Module. The session will be held on Dec. 17th at 1:30 p.m. and will contain the same presentation as prior webinars on this topic. Registration is available here.

Local Positivity Rates

The most recent listing of 14-day testing positivity rates for each county in New York State from CMS is available here. Three counties are above the 10 percent CMS threshold for the 14-day period ending Dec. 9th: Allegany, Genesee, and Oswego. Current daily county-level data for New York State are here, and ZIP code-level data for NYC showing infection rates during the most recent four weeks are available here. Metrics related to the State’s micro-cluster initiative are available here, and links to cluster maps and the address look-up tool are here.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

Advocacy for Inclusion of Home Care and Hospice in Vaccination Programs

LeadingAge NY continues to advocate for inclusion of home care and hospice staff in the early phases of the State Vaccination Program. Along with our colleagues from the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) and the New York State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP), we sent a letter to the Governor's office last week advocating this position and priority vaccination for the home care patient population.

On last week’s DOH webinar regarding rollout of vaccinations to nursing homes and other long term care facilities, staff stated that HCBS providers will be prioritized health care providers and vaccinated in regional Health Care Provider Hubs located in the 10 economic development zones across the state. We will communicate other state vaccination options for home care and hospice staff as they are announced.

LeadingAge NY and other home care associations will be meeting next week with NYC Vaccination Program representatives on this issue and will communicate thoughts on how to best incorporate home care staff and patients in the City's vaccination plan.

Affordable Housing/Independent Living Updates

New Pharmacy Partnership Insights for Section 202 Providers

CVS and Walgreens, as the pharmacy partners in the PPLTC, will be handling end-to-end COVID-19 vaccine distribution to health care workers, nursing homes, assisted living communities, and residential care, including Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 202 communities. There are some tasks, however, that will fall to the housing provider when vaccine distribution via the PPLTC is brought to a Section 202 community. Click here for more information from LeadingAge National.