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 CMS Posts SNF COVID-19 Data, Inspection Results on Nursing Home Compare

​The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted the first set of underlying coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) nursing facility data, a move the skilled nursing profession said earlier in the week should be used to help direct resources to the elderly with chronic diseases and the dedicated staff who care for them.

On April 19, CMS announced the requirement that skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) inform residents, their families, and their representatives of COVID-19 cases in their facilities. And, SNFs must also report COVID-19 cases and deaths directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and now CMS said it is making this data publicly available. 

“As part of today’s announcement, CMS is also posting the results from the targeted inspections announced on March 4, 2020, to allow inspectors to focus on the most serious health and safety threats like infectious diseases and abuse during the pandemic,” the agency said.

What the data show is that as of May 31, about 13,600 nursing facilities—approximately 88 percent of the 15,400 Medicare and Medicaid nursing facilities—had reported the required data to CDC. These facilities reported more than 95,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and almost 32,000 deaths. The next set of data will be updated in two weeks. Going forward after that date, CMS said it plans to update the data weekly.

Earlier in the week, Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, said, “We hope this public reporting system will help identify areas that are most in need of resources to fight the battle against COVID-19. We hope state and federal public health officials can use the data to help nursing homes by sending urgently needed resources.”

In addition, CMS said since March 4, the agency and its network of state-based inspectors have conducted more than 8,300 surveys with the results of a total of 5,700 available now. The results of the completed surveys and the reports are available on Nursing Home Compare. CMS plans to post the results of the inspections monthly on an ongoing basis as they are completed.

On the issue of inspections and possibility of increased penalties on SNFs, Parkinson said, “What would really be helpful to improve the situation is for CMS and its survey teams to work together with the nursing home industry to fight this COVID-19 battle.”

He added that the situation will get worse if surveyors are only looking for reasons to find deficiencies and issue fines instead of identifying ways for nursing facilities to make real changes and help them improve their infection control programs. “It’s time to recognize that when nursing homes receive citations, it’s a failure not just of the provider, but of CMS and the survey process as well. Citations and fines without assistance will not help us keep residents and staff safe from this virus,” Parkinson said.

“The reality is that long term care providers are facing an unprecedented situation that has left them begging for testing, personal protective equipment, and staffing resources. Just like hospitals, we have called for help. In our case, it has been difficult to get anyone to listen,” he said.

"Whether it’s federal, state, or local health agencies, long term care needs to be a priority for supplies and help. It’s time that America rally around our long term care residents just as they did with hospitals.”

For a quick overview of the nursing facility COVID-19 data, visit here: www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-nursing-home-reporting-numbers-5-31-20.pdf.

To view the inspections results, visit: www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html?

To view the survey reports, visit: www.cms.gov/files/zip/nursing-home-infection-control-surveys.zip.

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