CMS Updates Nursing Home Visitation Guidance to Emphasize Mandatory Ombudsman Access

The federal government on Thursday again updated its guidelines for nursing home visitations amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, warning providers that they must continue to facilitate in-person or remote visits by long-term care ombudsmen. Citing sections of the Social Security Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) clarified that the CARES Act or […]

For Nursing Homes, Telehealth is Here To Stay — Albeit With Changes — After Pandemic Ends

The federal government implemented sweeping waivers to broaden access to telemedicine for Medicare beneficiaries at the start of the COVID-19 national emergency. And now that skilled nursing facilities have gotten a chance to see the benefits over several months, it will be difficult to take them back when the pandemic ends. “Telemedicine in the 1135 […]

CMS Warns Operators: Days Billed Under Benefit Period Waivers Must Have Direct COVID Connection

The federal government on Friday issued an explanatory update to the temporary suspension of rules around Medicare beneficiaries’ skilled nursing benefit periods, warning that the waiver only applies in situations with a direct connection to the COVID-19 health emergency. Early in the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) waived the mandatory […]

CMS Orders Nursing Homes to Resume Reporting Staffing Data as COVID-19 Waiver Expires

Nursing homes must resume the submission of staffing data to the federal government later this summer after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) allowed an emergency COVID-19 waiver to expire. CMS on Thursday announced that facilities must report their payroll-based journal (PBJ) staffing data for the second quarter of 2020 by August 14, […]

CMS Issues Updated Guidelines, Clarifications on Nursing Home Visitations as States Reopen

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday released an updated set of frequently asked questions designed to encourage safe visitation of residents in nursing homes. While the federal government has largely left the decision to reopen nursing facilities up to the states, CMS emphasized that it supports safe visitation efforts — while […]

Vowing to Cut Red Tape, CMS Forms Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics

Framing the move as an extension of existing efforts to remove regulatory burdens for health care operators under the current administration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday unveiled a new office dedicated to eliminating rules it deems “duplicative, unnecessary, and excessively costly.” The Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics will […]

Verma: Fee-for-Service Medicare ‘Insufficient’ to Cover Vulnerable Beneficiaries Post-COVID

Early research into the impact of COVID-19 on seniors — both among the general population, and in nursing homes — has revealed endemic connections among race, income, and the likelihood of infection and death. Those patterns, reinforced by a new set of data probing COVID-19’s impact on Medicare beneficiaries, should prompt a more rapid move […]

COVID-19 Scrambles PDPM Math, Particularly Around Therapy Minutes: ‘This Will Be a Complete Rebuild’

In the lead-up to the implementation of the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) on October 1, 2019, consultants, therapists, and the federal government warned operators over and over that therapy minutes would come under intense scrutiny in the months following the start of the new Medicare reimbursement system. The model allowed for patients to receive up […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]