SNFs Could Face Fines of $1K Per Week For COVID-19 Reporting Violations

Nursing homes will soon have to start reporting all positive COVID-19 cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – and could face civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for not meeting the reporting requirements.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma said on a Monday morning call with reporters that skilled nursing facilities would be required to report to the CDC on a weekly basis, based on the information they have on hand.

“In terms of the civil monetary penalties, we’re thinking it’ll probably be around $1,000 a week, and it may increase, if over time, they’re still not reporting,” Verma said on the call. “We’re going to start out with a grace period at least for the first couple of weeks, so that we can make sure that there are no reporting challenges.”

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Once CMS and the CDC are sure of no glitches in the reporting system, SNFs could start seeing the fines, depending on how long it takes them to make accurate reports, Verma said.

In the release announcing the move — which came after pressure from nursing home associations, resident advocates and the media surrounding the reporting of COVID-19 in nursing homes — Verma identified SNFs as “ground zero.”

CMS noted in its summary of the memo announcing the requirements that it was reinforcing an existing requirement.

“To ensure appropriate tracking, response, and mitigation of COVID-19 in nursing homes, CMS is reinforcing an existing requirement that nursing homes must report communicable diseases, healthcare-associated infections, and potential outbreaks to State and Local health departments,” the agency said in the memo itself.

Rulemaking on the CDC reporting requirement is forthcoming; that will also include the mandate that facilities notify residents and representatives, separate from the reporting required to the CDC, the memo said. They will also have to provide updates weekly to SNF residents and their representatives.

“At a minimum, once these requirements are in place, nursing homes must inform residents and their representatives within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or three or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours,” the memo said. “Also, updates to residents and their representatives must be provided weekly, or each subsequent time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified and/or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurs within 72 hours.”

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