House Launches Probe into CMS, Operator Response to COVID-19 in Nursing Homes

A House subcommittee on Tuesday launched an investigation into the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes, demanding rafts of information from both the federal government and five prominent operators in the space. Rep. James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat who chairs the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, announced the probe in a statement. “The […]

CDC: Nursing Homes Should Test Residents for Flu, Other Respiratory Illnesses in Addition to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 testing guidelines for nursing homes, advising operators to check for other respiratory aliments — including the more familiar flu — on top of the novel coronavirus. “Clinicians are encouraged to consider testing symptomatic residents for other causes of respiratory illness, for example influenza, in […]

NIC CEO Jurutka: COVID-19 Crisis ‘Burning Platform’ for Innovation in Skilled Nursing, Senior Living

Calls for systemic overhauls of long-term care and senior living are nothing new. From operators to government payers to resident advocates, a variety of voices has challenged the status quo with support for new reimbursement systems, creative partnerships, and the substantial redesign of care models over the last decade — with varying results. But with […]

For COVID-19 Testing to Succeed in Nursing Homes, Lab Access is Critical — But Capacity Hard to Define

Test. Test. Test. That has been the mantra since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flashpoint of criticism over the early efforts of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the call from multiple skilled nursing operators and experts. To contain the pandemic and stem its impact on nursing homes across the […]

OIG Expands Probes into Nursing Homes’ Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

The federal government’s top health care watchdog agency added a pair of new probes into the nation’s nursing homes to its already busy slate of long-term care investigations for the coming year. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) last week rolled out two long-term care investigations — […]

PDPM Boosts Medicare Rate 9% Early in COVID-19 Crisis: ‘RUGS-IV Would Have Been a Fiscal Disaster’

Skilled nursing facilities received a 9% Medicare reimbursement boost during the early days of the COVID-19 crisis under the new Patient-Driven Patient Model, a new analysis has determined — providing a crucial fiscal lifeline that may not have existed under the structure that PDPM replaced. “RUG-IV would have been a fiscal disaster for SNFs dealing […]

CMS Warns Nursing Homes: Don’t Seize Residents’ Stimulus Checks, or Face Potential Termination

The federal government on Thursday addressed anecdotal reports that nursing homes have seized stimulus checks that residents received as part of the CARES Act coronavirus relief package, warning operators that such actions are illegal. “This practice is prohibited, and nursing homes that seize these payments from residents could be subject to federal enforcement actions, including […]

CMS Issues New Guidelines for Resuming Non-Emergency Surgeries as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

The federal government on Tuesday unveiled a new set of guidelines for the safe resumption of non-emergency health care services, including surgeries and other inpatient procedures. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the updated recommendations as many states have begun tentatively lifting the strict stay-at-home orders that had been in place since […]

HHS to Release $15B in COVID-19 Relief Funds to Medicaid Providers

The federal government on Tuesday announced a long-awaited tranche of financial relief for providers that rely solely on Medicaid reimbursements, setting aside $15 billion. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will release the funds to Medicaid providers that did not receive payments from the initial $50 billion in general allocations from the Provider […]

As Officials Mull Stronger Nursing Home Enforcement, Restorative Justice Holds Key to True Reform

As the federal and state governments slowly start to flex their enforcement muscles on nursing homes in the wake of COVID-19, my mind keeps going back to a concept that’s traditionally been the domain of social scientists and prison-reform advocates: restorative justice. Unlike our current crime-and-punishment system, which typically focuses on punitive measures such as […]

Nursing Homes Face Fines, Lawsuits Unless They Test for COVID-19 — But Access Often Out of Their Hands

As increasing numbers of states recommend so-called “universal testing” for nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the wake of the impact of COVID-19, skilled nursing facilities need to ensure they follow the applicable guidelines — a significant challenge given how varied that guidance could be. And depending where a SNF is located, testing capacity […]

As Just 3% of Surveys Reveal Infection Citations, Verma Says ‘Ultimate Responsibility’ Rests with Nursing Homes

Increasing the frequency of infection-control inspections during the pandemic — and imposing greater fines on facilities with a history of problems curbing the spread of disease — is vital because even the strictest surveys represent a single, point-in-time snapshot, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma said last week. “At the end […]

Verma Defends CMS Response to COVID-19 in Nursing Homes: Blaming Feds ‘Absolutely Ridiculous’

The top federal official in charge of nursing home regulations on Thursday defended the administration’s response to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, asserting that outbreaks were frequently the result of poor infection control. “I think this idea of trying to finger-point, and blame the federal government, is absolutely ridiculous,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services […]

CMS Posts COVID-19 Data, Survey Reports on Nursing Home Compare as Death Count Approaches 32,000

The federal government on Thursday afternoon updated its Nursing Home Compare database to include individual building-level data on COVID-19 outbreaks, following through on a transparency pledge months in the making. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) incorporated its previously released COVID-19 case and death counts into the consumer-facing tool, allowing family members and […]

Nursing Home Size May Play Role in COVID-19 Infection Risk Along with Race, Location

Another study of early nursing home COVID-19 data has found that factors such as a facility’s racial demographics and location — as well as bed count — have a greater bearing on potential outbreaks than quality history. “Larger facility size, urban location, greater percentage of African-American residents, non-chain status, and state were significantly related to […]