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Nov. 1st 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 described 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 Oct. 31st, 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.

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

LeadingAge NY Provides DOH with Specific Actionable Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 Data Collection

LeadingAge NY has consistently advocated for a significant reduction in the frequency and length of the daily COVID-19 ACF and nursing home Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) report. Based upon a careful review of the HERDS survey tool for relevance, redundancy, and usability, and consideration of the nursing home data reported through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), LeadingAge NY recommends an alternative approach to the Department of Health’s (DOH) data gathering, outlined in this letter sent to DOH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

LeadingAge NY provides specific, actionable recommendations that focus on the critical data points regarding COVID-19 positives, deaths, vaccination status, and workforce needs. In addition, we offer a detailed analysis of the survey tool, highlighting the areas in which the questions are obsolete, irrelevant, or unclear. We will continue to push for changes in this data collection to reflect where we are in the pandemic and take into account the workforce and resource challenges our members are facing.

CMS Issues Revised Vaccination Mandate Guidance with Enforcement Provisions for Nursing Homes

On Oct. 26th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued revised guidance to surveyors regarding determining compliance with staff vaccination requirements and citing deficiencies for tag F888. Click here for more information on the guidance as it relates to nursing homes.

DOH DAL Updates COVID-19 Infection Prevention Measures for Hospitals and Clinics

DOH released updated COVID-19 infection prevention guidance for hospitals and diagnostic and treatment centers (DTCs) on Oct. 24th. Members that operate DTCs or engage hospital personnel in delivery of long term care services are encouraged to review the guidance in its entirety. Click here for more information.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

CMS Revises Vaccination Mandate Guidance to Include Enforcement Provisions for Home Care/Hospice

On Oct. 26th, CMS revised its guidance and survey procedures for all provider types related to assessing and maintaining compliance with the COVID-19 staff vaccination regulatory requirements. Click here for more information on the guidance as it relates to home health and hospice agencies.

White House Increases Efforts to Make COVID-19 Vaccinations and Treatments Available to Older Adults

The White House announced last week a multi-pronged initiative to help the public and older adults more easily gain access to COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments. It released a new fact sheet on Oct. 25th setting forth several public relations and education initiatives as well as partnerships with businesses. This effort includes a partnership with Walgreens, DoorDash, and Uber to deliver treatment to vulnerable populations; a playbook for businesses; and efforts with other vaccination partners like grocery stores and pharmacies. CMS will also do direct outreach to Medicare beneficiaries regarding getting the booster and the availability of treatment. These initiatives may be helpful to members providing HCBS and/or serving individuals in senior housing, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), and other community settings. The fact sheet can be found here.