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March 8th 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 March 7th, 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

EO 4.6 Continues Suspension of 70/40 Spending/Minimum Aide Requirement and Continues Workforce Flexibilities

Last week, Governor Hochul extended Executive Order (EO) 4.4 through March 31, 2022, thereby suspending the requirements that nursing homes spend 70 percent of revenue on direct resident care and 40 percent of revenue on resident-facing staffing as well as meet daily average minimum nurse and aide staffing hours. The text of the extension is set forth in EO 4.6, available here. EO 4.6 also continues to allow several workforce flexibilities issued earlier in EOs 4 and 4.1, including the continuation of the use of out-of-state licensed staff in the nursing home setting without a New York State-issued nursing license as well as several home care flexibilities. Click here for more information.

Next Round of Provider Relief Reports Due March 31st

We remind members that recipients of Provider Relief Funding (PRF) totaling over $10,000 during the period July 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020 are required to report on the use of the funds by the end of March. The reporting catchment period is likely to include Phase 3 General Distribution funding, which began in mid-December 2020 and certainly includes targeted infection control funding made to nursing homes. It may also include funding from a prior phase that was received in the second half of 2020. Please note that you may use payments for eligible expenses incurred prior to receipt of those payments (i.e., pre-award costs) so long as they are to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. Funding received during the second half of 2020 can be applied to allowable expenses incurred from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021.

All nursing homes should have received formula-driven, targeted infection control payments on or soon after Aug. 27, 2020, while those that qualified for performance-based Infection Control Quality Incentive Payments (QIP) would have received payments on or soon after Oct. 28th, Nov. 30th, and Dec. 7th. Nursing home providers should bear in mind that the terms and conditions related to use of infection control funding are more restrictive than those governing the use of General Distribution funding. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has developed and made available a number of reporting resources, including many specific to nursing home infection control reporting. A recording of the Feb. 17th webinar specifically for nursing homes is available for on-demand viewing here. The HRSA PRF page with links to resources is here. Reporting and auditing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are posted here. Please let us know if you have questions or encounter trouble navigating the reporting portal.

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

LeadingAge NY Urges State to Review, Reconsider COVID-19 Guidance for LTC Settings

LeadingAge NY has been advocating for the State to revisit COVID-19 guidance for our member settings and peel away requirements that are outdated or onerous. Given the significant staffing shortages, we have been urging the State to do away with any unnecessary requirements that pull scarce resources away from resident care and quality of life. In this letter sent to Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett on March 7th, we provided several examples of guidance and requirements that should be rescinded or modified, including the daily Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) survey.

DOH Issues New Visitation Guidance for ACFs

On March 3rd, DOH issued revised visitation guidelines for ACF/AL settings. Click here to review some of the notable changes or clarifications.

Members Urged to Review CDC Antigen Testing and DOH “Test Soon and Treat Early” Guidance Documents

On March 3rd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance on the use of antigen testing in community settings, following the release of new guidance regarding antigen testing in long term care settings on Feb. 18th. In addition, on March 4th, DOH issued an advisory reminding providers of the availability of three COVID-19 treatment options: pre-exposure prophylaxis, monoclonal antibodies, and antivirals. Members are encouraged to review these documents carefully and contact LeadingAge NY with any questions.

CDC to Health Care Providers: Continue Using County Transmission Rates

We remind members that while the CDC now also posts COVID-19 county-specific infection rates called “Community Levels” on the COVID-19 Data Tracker section of their website, COVID-19-related thresholds for health care facilities continue to be governed by the “Transmission Rate” methodology. The CDC county-level “Transmission Rate” methodology uses a four-category approach (Low, Moderate, Substantial, High) and is used to determine the frequency of routine testing of unvaccinated nursing home staff and for other health care facility purposes. As of the week ending March 7th, most New York counties are in the “Substantial” transmission category, with 14 categorized as “High” and nine as “Moderate.” Data for all New York counties is compiled here. Individual county profiles can be accessed on the CDC website here.

CMS to Host March 10th National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call on Biden Administration’s Nursing Home Reforms

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will host a National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call to review the Biden administration’s initiative to improve quality in nursing homes on Thurs., March 10th at 3 p.m. Click here to register.

Join CDC’s Project Firstline Curriculum Launch Event for Health Care Workers on March 16th!

LeadingAge NY members are invited to join the CDC for a special virtual launch event to celebrate the health care workforce and to review Project Firstline’s new infection control educational materials on Wed., March 16th from 1 to 2 p.m. Click here to register.