CDC Adds to Research Suggesting Link Between Nursing Home Outbreaks, Community Rates of COVID

Multiple studies emerged over the course of 2020 suggesting correlations between the incidence of COVID-19 in a community and the rates of infection nursing homes within that community — and a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joins the list. The new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) found that […]

As SNFs Prep for COVID Vaccination, Questions Remain for Frontline Workers on Speed and Credibility

With two COVID-19 vaccines officially authorized for use, the immunization of health care workers and long-term care facility residents is finally underway in earnest. The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorizations (EUAs) to Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) COVID-19 vaccine on December 11 and to Moderna’s (Nasdaq: MRNA) on December 18. There are several considerations […]

Promises, Questions Abound as Azar Floats Christmas Vaccination Target for Nursing Home Residents

The emergency use authorization (EUA) granted to Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) COVID-19 vaccine late on Friday launched a flurry of promises and commitments to get the vaccine out to vulnerable long-term care residents as quickly as possible. Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggested on Sunday in an interview […]

BD Exec: Antigen Tests Are Reliable on COVID-19, But Community Spread Plays Role in False Results

The federal government’s push to send out rapid point-of-care antigen test for COVID-19 to all nursing homes officially wrapped in the early months of autumn. But for many skilled nursing facilities, the use of the tests was fraught, with questions lingering about accuracy and refills of supplies. Those concerns began to ease as fall wore […]

Cold Storage, Medicaid Coverage: Inside the Walgreens, CVS Vaccination Deal for Nursing Homes

The federal government last week tapped a pair of retail pharmacy giants to distribute an eventual COVID-19 vaccine to nursing home residents across the country, and while there remain significant questions about the logistics of distributing an as-yet-unapproved vaccine, officials have continued to position the plan as the only workable solution to a massive public […]

HHS Warns Against Using Antigen Results for Nursing Home Cohorting, But Sharply Criticizes State Ban

A top U.S. coronavirus testing czar had harsh words for a Nevada directive banning the use of antigen point-of-care COVID-19 tests in skilled nursing facilities during a press call on Friday, calling it “an uninformed and unlawful unilateral prohibition.” But Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant secretary for health Adm. Brett Giroir also […]

HHS Confirms Value-Based Structure for Coming $2B in Nursing Home Aid

The federal government on Thursday confirmed the value-based structure of the remaining $2 billion in federal aid to nursing homes, with facilities that beat baseline COVID-19 infection and mortality rates set to receive more relief. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will structure the remaining distribution as a kind of monthly contest, with […]

As CMS Cracks Down on Nursing Home Testing, Questions Remain on Logistics: ‘You Cannot Fine Your Way Out of a Pandemic’

The federal government last week cracked down on COVID-19 testing in nursing homes, with a host of new fines exceeding $8,000 per instance, but some industry leaders — and a prominent geriatrician — have raised concerns about whether providers can meet the new benchmarks, or whether the plan will have the intended effects. “You cannot […]

CMS Targets Infection Control in New Nursing Home Training Program

A few weeks after the nation’s top Medicare official pointed to persistent infection control problems as a major driver of rising COVID-19 cases in nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday introduced new online training resources for frontline staffers and management. Officials based the new “CMS Targeted COVID-19 Training for […]

CMS Widens Criteria for Nursing Homes to Receive Testing Devices, But Concerns Over Accuracy Grow

The federal government late last week released an updated blueprint for distributing the second wave of nearly 12,000 point-of-care COVID-19 testing units destined for nursing homes, with a significantly wider definition of hotspots than the initial round. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has designated about 11,800 facilities as targets for the second […]

26 States Do Not Mandate COVID-19 Testing for Nursing Home Inspectors: Report

The majority of states do not require nursing home surveyors to receive regular COVID-19 tests, even as case counts rise and family members remain barred from visiting in many areas, an investigation by the Wall Street Journal found. Twenty-six states did not have mandates for routine COVID-19 testing of inspectors, the WSJ report determined, with […]

As Federal Government Rolls Out Point-of-Care Units, Not All States Allow Nursing Homes to Use Them

The federal government is in the midst of an aggressive plan to send point-of-care coronavirus tests to all of the nation’s more than 15,400 nursing homes — but individual state rules may prevent facilities from taking advantage of the program. “Due to the lower sensitivity and specificity of these test devices, not all state public […]

Senators Want Demographic Data on Nursing Home COVID-19 Infections, Deaths

A group of U.S. senators asked top health officials to begin releasing detailed demographic data on coronavirus infections in nursing homes, pointing to mounting evidence that the disease disproportionately affects communities of color. The federal government has required the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes to report COVID-19 counts from May onward, but the public […]

CMS to Target Nursing Homes with Infection Control Problems in New COVID-19 Hotspots

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday announced a plan to support nursing homes in new “COVID-19 hotspot areas,” with a combined focus on technical support and targeted inspections for facilities with a history of infection control issues. The White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Vice President Mike Pence and coordinator […]

CDC: Repeat Testing, Infection Control Support Helped Cut Nursing Home COVID Rate from 35% to 18%

A comprehensive testing and infection-control collaboration helped reduce the rate of new COVID-19 positives in nursing homes from 35% to 18%, a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has determined. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Detroit Health Department proactively worked with academics, health care systems, local […]

CMS Orders Medicare Advantage Plans, MACs to Cover COVID-19 Tests Under New Nursing Home Guidance

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday instructed Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to begin covering all COVID-19 tests required for nursing home residents under new testing guidelines. The move came after the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance around nursing home testing strategies last […]

Federal Count of COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths Drops After First Update

The federal government on Thursday made the first routine update to its official nursing home COVID-19 data, and while the number of confirmed and suspected cases increased as expected, the most recent figures show a drop in deaths of more than 2,000. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that there were more […]

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 — […]

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 […]