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 CMS Issues New COVID-19 Reporting, Testing Rules for Nursing Homes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an interim final rule with comment period that revises regulations in several areas for long term care facilities and other health care providers.

According to a review of the new regulations by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), the rule includes a requirement for long term care facilities for COVID-19 testing of residents and staff. CMS did not establish a specific frequency or criteria for testing in the rule but did list potential criteria that will be considered in future guidance. 

The regulations are effective immediately upon their publication in the Federal Register, which has not occurred yet, AHCA/NCAL said.

Most of the new regulations are applicable only for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. CMS is providing a 60-day comment period for public input. 

Here is a high-level summary of the new testing requirements. A more detailed analysis and summary of additional provisions in the rule will follow. 

AHCA/NCAL said it continues to advocate for access to, and systems to support, reliable testing with rapid results for nursing home residents and staff.

“We will also continue to advocate that CMS guidance on the implementation of routine testing requirements for nursing homes acknowledges ongoing challenges with access to testing supplies and timely testing results,” the association said.
This includes flexibility to implement evolving knowledge about optimal uses of and approaches to testing, and does not penalize providers for factors beyond their control.

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