Today's COVID-19 Report: Friday, May 22, 2020
Friday, May 22, 2020
Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Friday, May 22 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Guard to Provide NF Staff with Mandatory Testing
State Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran explained to provider association groups last night that, per the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the state will begin mandatory COVID-19 testing of staff in nursing facilities early next week.
The National Guard will be deployed to begin a strategic testing approach in nursing homes which have at least one positive resident and/or staff. The program will focus first on the roughly 350 SNFs that have had COVID-19 positives, beginning with those most severely affected and centers that volunteer to participate. All staff will be tested; resident testing will proceed through an expanded cohort approach, i.e. based on the location/prevalence of COVID. Staff of all nursing homes, including those with no COVID experience, will be tested. At this time, the testing will be rolled out for nursing homes only. The National Guard teams are already doing COVID testing in Ohio. In addition to logistics experts, the team is comprised of physicians, nurses and others with clinical expertise.
The state is not viewing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) QSO-20-30-NH as a requirement for Ohio’s testing approach, and will proceed outside of the CMS recommendation to conduct weekly testing. Director Corcoran mentioned ongoing work is needed to frame the approach for repeated testing.
The state has acknowledged the importance of coming alongside facilities that may have an unexpected impact on their staffing due to high asymptomatic positive incidence rates. Clinical expertise and guidance will be available to assist facilities in their understanding of the implications of the testing results, including how best to cohort both staff and residents in response to the results.
While there are federal dollars promised for testing, billing for employee testing remains an uneven experience, with some insurers willing to pay, and others not. The state is continuing its research in this area.
If you have questions, comments, or concerns on this new development, please contact Kathryn Brod at email@example.com.
GAO Study Finds Problems in Nursing Home Infection Control
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report yesterday on infection control deficiencies in nursing homes, titled “Infection Control Deficiencies were Widespread and Persistent in Nursing Homes Prior to COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The investigators found that nursing homes frequently fell short on preventive measures like hand hygiene or isolating sick residents prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. They note that all the deficiencies they found were not severe; residents were not harmed by the oversight.
You can review this article from the Washington Post on the report.
LeadingAge Action Alert: Senior Housing Relief Bill
Yesterday, LeadingAge issued an Action Alert calling for members to reach out to their legislators in support of the House Senior Affordable Housing Relief Bill.
The bill, HR 6873, would provide $845 million for HUD-assisted senior housing relief, $300 million for new Service Coordinators, $50 million for wireless internet installation and service fees, and a 1-year extension of HUD’s IWISH demonstration.
As always, these Action Alerts are quick, easy, painless, and important!
Provider Relief Funds: SNFs To Receive Payment Today
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sent another payment from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) today, Friday, May 22 to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). SNFs around the country began receiving notice May 21 that another SNF-only payment was coming. LeadingAge has received word that members are already seeing this in their bank accounts
A total of $4.9 billion went out to 15,600 certified SNFs and 333 Medicaid-only nursing homes. SNFs will each receive $50,000 base payment plus $2500 per bed. The payments are being sent to the SNFs central billing office as an Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment from Optum Bank with the description, “CARES Act SNF-Pmt*HHS.GOV”.
SNFs will again have 45 days from when the payment is received to accept or reject the payments and corresponding terms and conditions through the attestation portal. LeadingAge has heard from one member that the Attestation Portal form now contains 3 lines for attesting to all three possible payments received. Providers who have already attested must submit a new attestation for these funds but it is not clear if they will be required to re-submit data from the previous two payments as part of this new attestation. Once posted, providers should read the terms and conditions carefully as they may differ from prior PRF terms and conditions.
Opportunities from Value First and Other Partners
LeadingAge Ohio Partner Value First shared that they are continuing to search and vet companies that are able to provide PPE and other important items for our members. You can find more information on items such as reusable gowns and masks, COVID-19 test kits, and personnel management kiosk systems by visiting the LeadingAge Ohio Partner and Associate Firm webpage.
Palmetto eServices Down
Palmetto has noticed providers that eServices are currently unavailable. Palmetto is working to resolve this issue, and will notify providers when the system is available. There is not an estimated time of resolution as of now.
Ohio Statistics: 30,167 Cases, 1,836 Deaths
There are 30,167 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,836 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 5,295 people have been hospitalized, including 1,397 admissions to intensive care units.
In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org. Additionally, members are encouraged to visit the LeadingAge Ohio COVID-19 Working Group facebook group to pose questions to peers and share best practices.