HHS Awards $255M Contract to Supply 50M Rapid COVID-19 Tests to Long-Term Care Facilities

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week announced that it would invest more than $12 billion in expanding testing for COVID-19, with a $255 million contract for the production and delivery of 50 million rapid point-of-care antigen tests to long-term care facilities. The contract covers 50 million Abbott BinaxNOW tests “to support […]

HHS Nominee Becerra Says More Nursing Home Aid ‘Top Priority’ — But Faces No Questions on SNF Reform

California attorney general Xavier Becerra faced a range of questions in his confirmation hearing for the role of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary — including whether or not he would support more government aid for nursing homes and other health care providers ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican […]

With Infection Control in Spotlight, $237M Program for Nursing Homes Shows Promise for COVID and Beyond

Good infection control standards are the same for skilled nursing facilities across the U.S. — both in the sense of federally mandated requirements, and in the sense of the concrete conditions that are necessary to prevent the spread of contamination. This was true even before a pandemic that shook the world in 2020, with ongoing […]

AARP Sues CMS Over Reduced Fines for Nursing Homes, Claiming Move Put Seniors in Danger

The AARP Foundation and the law firm Constance Cannon filed a lawsuit against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and outgoing Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Alex Azar, alleging that the federal government put nursing home residents’ lives in danger by weakening enforcement of monetary penalties for nursing homes. The […]

HHS Delays Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirements

The federal government on Friday issued a formal delay of its reporting requirements for health care providers that received COVID-19 financial relief. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had originally set January 15 as the opening date for its Provider Relief Fund reporting portal, with the first deadline set a month later on […]

COVID Support Will Not Save Flawed Nursing Home Operators in 2021 as Distress Looms Large

When the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in skilled nursing facilities became apparent after the first major outbreak in the state Washington, dire predictions for the sector were immediate. Most of those fears, clinically speaking, were borne out horrifically over the course of 2020. But while surveys have found plummeting occupancy and significant numbers of […]

With Promising Results from Abbott’s COVID Tests, HHS Commits to Ongoing Shipments for Nursing Homes

With one COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and another likely to gain approval soon, the end of the pandemic could be coming into view. In the meantime, though, testing remains a critical element of the response, particularly for skilled nursing facilities, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) […]

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 […]

HHS Awards $523 Million in Second Round of Value-Based COVID Relief for Nursing Homes

A smaller group of nursing facilities will split a larger pot of cash in the second round of the federal government’s four-part value-based competition for COVID-19 relief dollars. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Monday announced the pending distribution of $523 million in performance-based stimulus payments to about 9,200 nursing homes that […]

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 […]

OIG to Probe Improper Nursing Home Discharges, Evictions

The federal government’s top health care watchdog last week announced a plan to investigate whether nursing homes are following rules around discharges, specifically citing media reports about improper evictions from facilities. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) added a probe of facility-initiated discharges to its formal work […]

CMS, Medicare to Cover COVID-19 Antibody Drug in Nursing Homes

The federal government this week announced that Medicare will cover a recently approved antibody treatment for COVID-19 in a range of settings, including nursing homes. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday cleared on an emergency basis the use of bamlanivimab — a monoclonial antibody infusion — for adults with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. […]

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 […]

COVID-19 Antigen Test Confusion Highlights Need for Better Federal Guidance for SNFs, Experts Say

One state’s ban on the use of point-of-care tests for COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities has been withdrawn after sharp criticism from the assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). But the incident highlights the confusion around the use of the tests – and the need for clearer federal guidance on […]

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 Releases $20B More in CARES Act Relief, But Warns: Don’t Wait to Apply

The federal government on Thursday announced an additional tranche of $20 billion in coronavirus relief funding for a wide swath of health care providers, with the caveat that interested parties should apply as soon as possible. Starting October 5, the Department of Health and Human Services will begin accepting applications for the Phase 3 General […]

Backed By HHS — and Up to $237M — Nursing Home Action Network Targets Infection Control

As part of an effort to bolster the implementation of evidence-based infection prevention and safety in nursing homes, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is establishing a National Nursing Home COVID Action Network, supported financially by the Provider Relief Fund. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part […]