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 CMS Issues Interim Final Rule for SNFs and COVID-19 Reporting

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an interim final rule with comment period that revises a previous regulation (§ 483.80) establishing explicit reporting requirements for long term care (LTC) facilities to report information related to COVID-19 cases among facility residents and staff.

In highlighting the interim rule, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said the new reporting requirements are applicable on the effective date of this interim final rule, which is the date of the publication at the Office of the Federal Register. AHCA/NCAL said it will notify providers when this publishing date happens. 

Under this new requirement, nursing facilities must: 

--Electronically report information about COVID-19 in a standardized format specified by the Secretary [of Health and Human Services], which will rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) portal that went live on April 29 with the new LTCF COVID-19 module. This report to CDC must include but is not limited to:

--Suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infections among residents and staff, including residents previously treated for COVID-19; 

--Total deaths and COVID-19 deaths among residents and staff; 

--Personal protective equipment and hand hygiene supplies in the facility; 

--Ventilator capacity and supplies in the facility; 

--Resident beds and census; 

--Access to COVID-19 testing while the resident is in the facility; 

--Staffing shortages; and 

--Other information specified by the Secretary. 

--Provide the information specified in the list above at a frequency specified by the Secretary, but no less than weekly to NHSN.

--This information will be posted publicly by CMS to support protecting the health and safety of residents, personnel, and the general public. 

In addition, providers must continue to comply with state and local reporting requirements for COVID-19. AHCA/NCAL said it will continue to advocate to align state and CDC reporting to avoid duplication of effort that is taking staff away from resident care.

--Inform Residents, their Representatives, and Families 

--Inform residents, their representatives, and families of those residing in facilities by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the occurrence of:

--Either a single confirmed infection of COVID-19 or 

--Three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurring within 72 hours of each other. 

--This information must:

--Not include personally identifiable information; 

--Include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations of the facility will be altered; and 

--Include any cumulative updates for residents, their representatives, and families at least weekly or by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the subsequent occurrence of either each time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occur within 72 hours of each other.

--The preamble to the interim rule states that facilities are not expected to make individual calls. Providers may use general communication platforms easily available to residents, representatives, and families such as listservs, website postings, and recorded telephone messages.

AHCA/NCAL said it will continue to advocate for CMS to issue clarifying language that makes this feasible and as least burdensome as possible.

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