As part of a broader Trump administration announcement made on August 25, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued sweeping oversight changes in the form of an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period (IFC) designed to address COVID-19 infections in long-term care facilities. The new measures supersede prior CMS guidance and constitute the agency’s most significant and decisive recommendations with respect to skilled nursing care providers since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Notably, operators must now routinely perform testing of nursing home staff or risk losing their eligibility to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The frequency of the required testing depends on the rate of spread in the surrounding area—the higher the overall case count in the community, the more frequent the testing—up to twice weekly. The cost of testing will be funded as part of the nearly $10 billion in Provider Relief Funds provided under the CARES Act.
The new mandates also include:
Facilities that do not comply with the new requirements may be cited for noncompliance and may face enforcement sanctions based on the severity of the noncompliance, including civil monetary penalties in excess of $400 per day, or over $8,000 per instance of noncompliance.
The new CMS rule can be found here. A full list of CDC guidance to nursing homes can be found here.
In conjunction with the updated rule, CMS also issued guidance to state survey agencies that provides further detail regarding LTC facility testing requirements. Providers and stakeholders seeking assistance or more information on the interim final rule and the comment period may visit CMS’ Coronavirus Waivers & Flexibilities page for additional information, including fact sheets for changes for each provider type.