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Sept. 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 shared 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 Aug. 31st, is available here. If you have questions for next week’s update, please send them to Ami Schnauber, and be sure to check your email for the access information, or contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

Provider Relief Funding Applications Due Sept. 13th

The deadline to apply for Provider Relief Phase 2 General Distribution funding (primarily aimed at Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and dental providers) has been extended until Sept. 13th. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also accepting applications for this funding from Medicare-certified providers that may not have applied previously or were not fully funded.

In addition to Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers, a Medicare provider may apply for Phase 2 General Distribution funding if it:

  • Missed the June 3rd deadline to apply for the $20 billion second installment of the Phase 1 General Distribution by submitting its federal tax return and revenue loss information (this includes many Medicaid, CHIP, and dental providers with low Medicare revenues);
  • Changed ownership in 2019 or 2020 under Medicare Part A and received no Medicare fee-for-service payments in 2019;
  • Received total General Distribution payments of less than 2 percent of its annual patient service revenue across all payers; or
  • Previously rejected General Distribution payments and wants to reapply.

HHS information on Provider Relief funding is available here. HHS continues to update its Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to include questions and answers (see the links at the top to locate relevant FAQs) on how the Phase 2 General Distribution will be operationalized, including further details on eligibility, information needed for the application, and calculation of payments. The HHS Provider Relief Fund website also includes instructions on how to apply for the Phase 2 General Distribution, which should be reviewed carefully prior to applying.

New York Updates Travel Advisory List

LeadingAge NY has been tracking the COVID-19 Travel Advisory requiring people to quarantine if traveling to New York from certain states, with certain conditional exceptions for essential workers. On Sept. 1st, the Governor announced that Alaska and Montana have been added, while no states have been removed. Click here for more information and an archived list of states as they have been added or removed.

Nursing Home and Adult Care Facility (ACF) Updates

Engage Nursing Home and ACF Resident Families in Visitation Advocacy – Draft Letter Now Available!

As many nursing home and ACF residents continue to struggle under current restrictions on family visitation, LeadingAge NY is asking members to connect with resident families and encourage them to advocate with us for a more thoughtful and reasonable approach to reopening visitation. To help engage families in this advocacy, we have drafted a visitation letter template, which can be filled in and sent to Governor Cuomo within minutes. Click here for more information.

DOH Issues Guidance on PPE

On Aug. 31st, the Department of Health (DOH) issued Dear Administrator Letter (DAL) 20-11 reminding nursing homes of the requirement to maintain an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Click here for more information.

CMS Interim Rule on Testing Guidelines for Nursing Homes

On Aug. 26th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued memorandum QSO-20-38-NH outlining requirements for the testing of residents and staff in nursing homes. Specifically, facilities are required to test residents and staff, including individuals providing services under arrangement and volunteers, for COVID-19 based on parameters set forth by the HHS Secretary. In addition, CMS has revised the COVID-19 Focused Survey Tool to include the new testing requirements, the requirement that nursing homes designate an Infection Control Preventionist, and the requirement that the Infection Control Preventionist participate in the Quality Assurance Committee and provide reports to that committee on a regular basis. Click here for more information.

COVID-19 Point-of-Care Test Update

The federal government has expanded the list of nursing homes that will receive rapid point-of-care testing instruments and testing supplies, and nearly all New York State nursing homes have been selected to receive the tests. Click here for more information.

Nursing Home Provider Relief Funding

On Aug. 27th, nursing homes began receiving the next round of targeted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Provider Relief Funds as direct deposits. This round distributes $2.5 billion to all nursing homes in the United States, with New York homes receiving $179.1 million. Each home should receive a $10,000 base payment plus $1,450 per bed.

Providers should note that the attestations that accompany each round of Provider Relief Fund distributions differ and should closely review the terms and conditions which specify the appropriate uses of this round. Recipients are required to certify that the payment will only be used to cover costs associated with:

  • administering approved diagnostic COVID-19 testing
  • reporting test results to local, state, or federal governments
  • hiring staff to provide patient care or administrative support
  • improving infection control, including activities such as implementing infection control “mentorship” programs with subject matter experts or changes made to physical facilities
  • providing additional services to residents, such as technology that permits residents to connect with their families if the families are not able to visit in person

Providers must accept the terms and conditions within 90 days through the HHS attestation portal available here.

According to the HHS announcement, HHS intends to distribute another $2 billion to nursing homes later this fall that will be linked to a nursing home’s ability to minimize COVID-19 spread and COVID-19-related fatalities among its residents and will consider the prevalence of the virus in the nursing home’s local geography.

An initial July announcement had suggested that nursing homes would need to participate in specified COVID-19 training to receive this additional funding, but there has been no further mention of a link between the training and Provider Relief funding. However, the announcement does refer to a partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to create the National Nursing Home COVID Action Network, which will offer training and mentorship to facilities to protect residents and staff. In addition, CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed a series of voluntary, on-demand training sessions with modules focused on basic infection control practices, cohorting strategies, vaccine distribution, and other topics.

HHS and Project ECHO to Host Nursing Home Quality and Safety Webinar on Sept. 2nd

On Wed., Sept. 2nd from 1:30 to 3 p.m. ET, HHS will host a webinar with faculty from Project ECHO at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and experts on quality improvement and infection control in nursing homes. The session, part of a Project ECHO and AHRQ pilot initiative focused on supporting nursing homes and their COVID-19 response, will include brief presentations by Drs. Cheryl Phillips and Lewis Lipsitz on telehealth in the time of COVID-19 and the Massachusetts initiative to improve infection control in nursing homes. The presentations will be followed by a question and answer (Q&A) session, as well as discussion of the broader needs and issues that nursing home teams are experiencing around patient safety and infection control in responding to COVID-19.

Registration is available here, and questions may be submitted to ECHONursingHome@salud.unm.edu.