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May 3rd 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 May 2nd, 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

Members Reminded of Upcoming LeadingAge National and CDC COCA Calls on COVID-19

LeadingAge NY members are reminded of two upcoming COVID-19-related calls to be presented by LeadingAge National and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA). Click here for more information.

OSHA Rulemaking Updates for Senior Living and Skilled Nursing Providers

In response to request for public comment, our colleagues at LeadingAge National recently urged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) not to make the agency’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 permanent, as it is unnecessary and burdensome. OSHA had published a notice that the agency is considering changes to the Healthcare ETS, which was issued in June 2021. That ETS imposed various infection control and related requirements on health care settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and certain assisted living (AL) facilities.

As LeadingAge NY had previously reported, the ETS expired, but OSHA had indicated that it was working on a permanent standard and encouraged the provider community to continue to comply with the requirements, many of which are otherwise required by the various agencies having oversight of these settings. OSHA is now considering all public comments. We will inform members of developments in this process.

Meanwhile, OSHA is currently accepting comment on OSHA rules that could expand reporting requirements for senior living and skilled nursing facility (SNF) providers. Proposed amendments to federal occupational injury and illness recordkeeping regulations could require senior living providers, SNF operators, and other employers in “high-hazard industries” to submit additional documentation of each injury or illness reported. Additionally, the data would be available to the public via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Comments are being accepted until May 31st.

Click here for more information.

37 New York State Counties Experiencing High COVID-19 Community Levels

With more counties across the state experiencing High COVID-19 Community Levels, LeadingAge NY reminds multifamily senior housing and other non-health care, community-based senior service providers to familiarize themselves with recommendations to reduce spread among vulnerable populations from the CDC and local health departments. Click here for more information.

Governor Extends Executive Order Declaring Workforce Staffing Shortage

This past weekend, Governor Hochul extended Executive Order (EO) 4, continuing the Declaration of a Statewide Disaster Emergency Due to a Healthcare Staffing Shortage. EO 4.8 provides an extension to May 30th. It continues several flexibilities for health care providers, including, but not limited to, allowing certain licensed out-of-state and Canadian health care providers, as well as certain licensed but unregistered providers, to practice in New York. The EO also provides other scope of practice flexibilities for nurses, aides, and home care agencies. Click here for more information.

DOH COVID-19 Guidance for Transportation Managers and Brokers

The State issued transportation guidance for Medicaid transportation brokers and vendors providing non-emergent transportation back in June 2021 and revised it in September 2021 to provide guidance on COVID-19 practices for transporting Medicaid beneficiaries. Click here for a review of the guidance.

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

DOH Issues Guidance on Disposal of Expired COVID-19 Tests

On April 28th, the Department of Health (DOH) issued a Health Advisory regarding the disposal of expired COVID-19 tests in which DOH and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) state that these tests are not considered Regulated Medical Waste (RMW). As such, any expired COVID-19 tests can be discarded in a facility’s regular solid waste stream. All facilities are reminded to check if any COVID-19 tests have had their expiration dates extended by the manufacturer before disposing of the tests.

Questions can be directed to the Department via email at rmwp@health.ny.gov.

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)/Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) Updates

DOH Issues MLTC COVID-19 Fact Sheet

DOH has distributed a COVID-19 Fact Sheet to MLTC and other Medicaid Managed Care plans that outlines how members can access COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment, along with how such services are covered. The Department requests that plans post the document on their websites and share it with their member services staff so that they may provide it to members inquiring about vaccines, tests, and treatment. DOH also suggests providing the Fact Sheet at plan offices and public-facing events and sharing it with network providers. At the same time, DOH reminds plans that for members covered by both Medicaid and Medicare, Medicare is the primary payor for COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatment. The English version is available here. DOH expects to post translated versions here once they are available.