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Jan. 12th 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 Jan. 11th, is available here. If you have questions for next week’s update, which will be held on Tues., Jan. 19th at 11 a.m. due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, please send them to Ami Schnauber, and be sure to check your email for the access information, or contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

LeadingAge NY to Host CARES Act Funding Reporting Webinar on Jan. 20th

While the recent federal COVID-19 relief legislation made some changes to how recipients of Provider Relief Funding (PRF) may calculate lost revenue, it did not specify a delay to the previously announced reporting timelines. While indications are that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may do so, the official date for when the reporting portal will open remains Jan. 15th, with the first report due by Feb. 15th. Members who received $10,000 or more in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) PRF should become familiar with the information that HHS will require in the submission. The reporting guidelines with the required data elements are available here, and a quick list of allowable expenses is here.

Whether the portal opens this week or not, LeadingAge NY is partnering with CliftonLarsonAllen (CLA) to offer an educational session to help ensure that members are aware of the latest developments and are prepared to report. We invite members to join us at 10 a.m. on Wed., Jan. 20th for a webinar where members of CLA’s PRF Advisory Team will discuss reporting preparations, strategies for compliance with funding requirements, and considerations for optimizing PRF funding in light of other relief programs. The program is free to members, but registration is required and available here.

New Opportunities for Relief Funding

We urge members to make the most of financial relief opportunities in the recently enacted federal legislation. Although still aimed at smaller and mid-size organizations, the funding added to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and changes made to the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) may prove beneficial for those facing significant financial impacts from COVID-19. Lenders may begin accepting PPP applications as early as this week. Given the prior popularity of the program, potential applicants may want to reach out to lenders in advance so as to be ready to apply at the first opportunity. In a nutshell, organizations with 300 or fewer workers that experienced a revenue decrease of 25 percent or more when comparing 2019 to 2020 (on an annual or quarterly basis) should take a look at the potential of a forgivable PPP loan. These as well as larger members facing a 20 percent or greater drop in revenue may benefit from the ERC.

Last week, The Bonadio Group presented a webinar for LeadingAge NY members that reviewed these relief provisions in detail. The session covered both new provisions as well as changes to existing programs. Members who were unable to participate can obtain the slides and/or access to the recorded webinar by contacting dkirstein@leadingageny.org.

LeadingAge NY to Host OSHA Respiratory Protection Program/N95 Compliance Webinar

On Wed., Jan. 27th at 10 a.m., LeadingAge NY will be hosting a webinar to review the general requirements for an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-compliant Respiratory Protection Program, which includes N95 respirator fit testing. Cameron Steuer, a certified industrial hygienist with Adirondack Environmental Services, will be the featured presenter discussing these OSHA requirements. There will also be a question and answer segment following the presentation. Registration will be opening soon, and any questions about the webinar may be directed to Sara Neitzel.

DOH Updates Return to Work Guidance Related to Travel and Exposure

Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) issued revised guidance regarding health care personnel (HCP) return to work after COVID-19 exposure or travel to non-contiguous states. It does not apply to HCP who are diagnosed with COVID-19. This guidance clarifies and supersedes the Dec. 26th guidance and offers steps for health care entities with current or imminent staffing shortages that threaten essential patient services. Click here for more information.

Individuals 65+ May Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine

On Jan. 12th, Governor Cuomo announced that the 65+ population has been added to the prioritization list for the COVID-19 vaccine, which also includes the recently announced Phase 1B population activated on Jan. 11th. Consequently, new populations included in Phase 1B include both individuals over 65 (and 75) and a multitude of essential and public-facing workers. Click here for more information on this announcement as well as an update on LeadingAge NY’s Regional Vaccine Hub advocacy efforts.

State Vaccinator Training Resources Now Available

DOH is seeking HCP to enroll in COVID-19 Vaccinator Training to bulk up the workforce administering the vaccine at Point of Dispensing (POD) sites organized by regional vaccination networks. Click here for more information.

State Issues Medicaid Coverage Policy and Billing Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

DOH has issued new guidance for Medicaid coverage for providers administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Click here for more information.

Executive Order Update

On Jan. 7th, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO) 202.89 requiring all influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations for any individual (child or adult) to be reported to the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) or the City Immunization Registry (CIR), as applicable, within 24 hours of administration of such vaccine. Members may recall that this reporting requirement had been originally set at 24 hours and then moved to 12 hours. With this new EO, COVID-19 and influenza vaccination reporting now return to a 24-hour reporting period.

EO 202.84, issued on Dec. 24th, extends EO 202.77 setting forth the holiday visitation guidance. This new EO is effective through Jan. 22nd. The order authorized certain guidance regarding the acceptance of patients after a temporary leave from a nursing home or adult care facility (ACF) to visit friends or relatives.

Nursing Home and ACF/Assisted Living Updates

Updates from LeadingAge NY Call with DOH and Governor’s Office

LeadingAge NY participated in a call with DOH and the Governor’s Office late last week on issues related to vaccination and COVID-only nursing homes. Click here for highlights from that conversation.

Nursing Home Staff Testing

On Jan. 7th, DOH announced that nursing homes statewide are required to test staff twice weekly. Part-time staff who work three days a week or less need to be tested once per week. The State is distributing a supply of Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests to homes based on staff counts reported through Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) surveys to help facilitate twice-weekly testing. While nursing homes must have a limited service lab certification to use these tests and do need to report positive and negative results promptly, homes that have already added an antigen test to their certification do not need to repeat the process.

The State is encouraging nursing homes to use the BinaxNOW tests to help ensure that results are obtained quickly. However, they indicated that homes can refuse them by contacting DOH. Providers that received supplies that they are not using are required to send them back to the State.

Until recently, nursing homes were required to report point-of-care test results to both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and the State through the Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS). This has recently changed. Reporting individual point-of-care test results through NHSN is now optional, meaning that nursing homes can fulfill their test result reporting requirement by reporting to ECLRS. In addition, if a nursing home would prefer to submit the results through NHSN, they may contact ECLRS to explore the option of fulfilling the reporting obligation through NHSN reporting. Please note that this option requires the home to contact ECLRS for approval.

Local Positivity Rates

A document showing the most recent 14-day test positivity rates for each county in New York State based on both federal and state figures is available here. Although nursing homes across the state are now required to test staff twice per week, we encourage members to be aware of their local positivity rates. Nursing home members should also keep in mind the federal requirement that for homes located in counties where positivity rates exceed 10 percent, visitation is limited to compassionate care.

Current daily county-level data for New York State are here, and ZIP code-level data for New York City 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.

CMS Updates Focused Infection Control Survey

On Jan. 4th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revised previously issued memorandum QSO 20-31-All to reflect changes to the triggers for a Focused Infection Control survey. In addition, CMS provided additional guidance on survey and enforcement protocols and included Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that addressed a number of survey-related questions. Click here for more information.

Affordable Housing/Independent Living Updates

Deadline Extended for Service Coordinator CARES Act Spending

As grant-funded Service Coordination programs receive initial approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for extra COVID-19 payments, HUD has extended the spending deadline from the end of the 2020 calendar year until March 31, 2021. Click here for more information from LeadingAge National.