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Oct. 18th 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 Oct. 17th, 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

Federal Public Health Emergency Extended

On Oct. 13th, the federal COVID-19 public health emergency declaration was renewed for an additional 90 days, meaning that it will last into January 2023. The Biden administration has promised to provide 60 days advance notice to states prior to allowing the emergency to end, so it should become clear by mid-November whether this is the final extension. Waivers tied to the emergency, including the blanket skilled nursing facility (SNF) three-day hospital stay waiver for traditional Medicare, remain in effect. A document listing federal provisions waived during the emergency, including those that have expired showing their expiration dates, is available here.

Still Waiting for Federal Provider Relief Funding?

Any provider who applied for Phase 4 Provider Relief Fund (PRF)/American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural funding and believes that their payment may still be pending is urged to take immediate action. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) notified LeadingAge National that there may be some providers who cannot receive their payment because they have not established an Optum Pay account, which is used to distribute this funding. If you suspect that your organization may have a pending payment, please call the Provider Support Line (866-569-3522) to verify and read the LeadingAge National article here that describes the process of setting up an account. If you think that your organization is in this category, please do so immediately to help forestall loss of the funding.

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

New DOH COVID-19 Guidance Aligns with CDC/CMS on Nursing Home Staff Testing, Continues Visitor Testing

The Department of Health (DOH) released updated guidance for nursing homes on Oct. 13th that aligned with many of the updates issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in September. Most notably, DOH followed the lead of the CDC and CMS by eliminating the requirement that nursing homes routinely test asymptomatic staff for COVID-19. The new DOH guidance also addressed testing in other contexts, masking in health care settings, visitation, and cohorting. Although it generally aligned with the recent federal guidance, it also included several state-specific requirements and emphases. Click here for highlights of the updated guidance.

Updated CDC Guidance and What It Means for ACF and AL Providers

LeadingAge NY was surprised to learn that, despite the recent CDC COVID-19 updates and related updated nursing home guidance, DOH is not currently updating the COVID-19 guidance for ACFs and AL providers. LeadingAge NY believes that there are some questions given the updates in guidance and the existing state guidance and is advocating for the Department to look at these discrepancies. Despite the lack of formal update, we do see some opportunity for providers to update some practices. Click here for more information.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

How New COVID-19 Nursing Home Guidance Affects HCBS Providers

The CDC recently issued new COVID-19 recommendations for health care settings and providers regarding masking, screening of personnel and visitors, and return to work protocols. LeadingAge NY had been waiting for DOH to align state guidance with the CDC recommendations, and on Oct. 13th, DOH issued a Health Advisory to nursing homes recognizing some of the CDC provisions. However, much of the guidance continues many of the restrictive provisions adopted earlier. Click here for a review of the implications of the new guidance for HCBS providers.