Featured

 

 

AHCA/NCAL Calls for Vaccine Priority for Residents, Staff<p>At a public listening session organized by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Libing (AHCA/NCAL) President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Parkinson stressed the importance of getting a vaccine to long term care providers that have been on the front lines of the pandemic protecting one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.<br></p><p>“Long term care was forgotten at the start of the pandemic, but we cannot be forgotten now,” he said. “Members of our country’s greatest generation and the brave men and women who keep them safe deserve our support. Ensuring long term care residents and staff are among the first to receive a vaccine when it becomes available will help mitigate the risk and prevent further deaths.”<br></p><p>NASEM’s final study on vaccine distribution will provide recommendations to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they consider initial allocation once a vaccine is available.<br></p><p>AHCA/NCAL said a recent&#160;Harris survey&#160;of more than 1,900 Americans revealed that the vast majority of Americans support providing the vaccine to high-risk individuals first. This includes seniors and those who care for them.<br></p><p>While long term care providers have taken unprecedented action to protect those in their care, research shows that a high rate of spread in a community is all but certain to lead to outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living communities.<br></p><p>“As long as the virus is a threat to the general public, it is a threat to our residents and staff,” Parkinson said. “If we can vaccinate long term care residents and caregivers first, they will be less at risk in the event we see a rise in cases within our communities.”<br></p><p>AHCA/NCAL said it will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services, NIH, and CDC to ensure those who most urgently need the protection of a vaccine are able to access it as soon as possible.​</p>2020-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/PublishingImages/Headshots/MarkParkinson.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Infection Control;COVID-19Patrick Connole​AHCA/NCAL said a recent Harris survey of more than 1,900 Americans revealed that the vast majority of Americans support providing the vaccine to high-risk individuals first.
CMS Tells States to Return to Normal Survey When Possible<p>The Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a&#160;Quality, Safety &amp; Oversight (QSO)&#160;memo to states instructing them to return to the normal survey process as soon as resources in the state allow and in accordance with states’ COVID-19 reopening plans.<br></p><p>The memo also provides guidance on how to resolve pending enforcement actions suspended as a result of prior QSO memos on March 23&#160;and June 1&#160;that suspended some survey enforcement actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a summary of the CMS instructions by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).<br></p><p>On March 23, CMS issued the QSO 20-20-All memorandum, which limited survey activity to focused infection control surveys. On June 1, CMS issued the QSO 20-31-All memorandum that provided survey reprioritization guidance to transition&#160;to more routine oversight and survey activities. This latest memo instructs states to restart all normal surveys as soon as is possible, AHCA/NCAL said.<br></p><p>CMS resolved suspended enforcement cases and provided guidance for closing them out&#160;going forward starting mid-August. This process involved four components that are described in the QSO memo&#58;<br>1. Expanding the Desk Review policy for Plans of Corrections; <br>2. Processing enforcement cases that were started&#160;before&#160;March 23, 2020; <br>3. Processing enforcement cases that were started on&#160;March 23, 2020, through May 31, 2020; and <br>4. Processing enforcement cases that were started on or after&#160;June 1, 2020.<br></p><p>CMS is also issuing updated guidance for the reprioritization of routine state survey agency (SA)&#160;Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) survey activities, subject to the SA’s discretion, in addition to lifting the restriction on processing CLIA enforcement actions and issuing the Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction (Form CMS-2567) for CLIA citations.<br></p><p>AHCA/NCAL said providers with questions about past enforcement actions suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic should contact their state survey agency for guidance&#160;as there are many scenarios that may not be fully addressed by the new&#160;memo.<br></p><p>CMS said questions about a specific enforcement cycle may be addressed with the specific CMS location&#58;<br>■ Long-Term Care questions should be addressed to&#58;&#160;DNH_Enforcement@cms.hhs.gov.<br>■ CLIA questions should be addressed to&#58;&#160;LabExcellence@cms.hhs.gov.​</p>2020-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/1020_News1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />CMSPatrick Connole​CMS issued a Quality, Safety & Oversight memo to states instructing them to return to the normal survey process as soon as resources in the state allow and in accordance with states’ COVID-19 reopening plans.
DOL Updates Temporary Pandemic Leave Rule<p>The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an&#160;update to the temporary rule&#160;the agency issued in April regarding worker leave related to the COVID-19 pandemic by changing the definition of health care workers, according to analysis by the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).<br></p><p>Employees defined as health care workers are not required to have paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. Other employees of providers, such as food service, housekeeping, records, and billing staff, are required to have paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, the update from the Labor Department said. <br></p><p>AHCA/NCAL said these changes apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees, and the aggregation of employees across locations is possible in certain instances.<br></p><p>“This rule applies to nursing facilities and all long term care facilities, which would include IDD [intellectual development and disabilities] and assisted living providers that meet the definitions in the rule,” the association said.&#160;“Providers should work with their employment counsel to determine whether these leave provisions apply.”&#160; AHCA/NCAL said the revised Labor rule came in response to a district court decision in New York that found part of the original rule invalid. The revisions impact the definition of a health care provider, which can be exempted from paid leave and emergency family and medical leave expansion act (EFMLEA) requirements. <br></p><p>“The new definition is limited to those providing health care services and those reporting to health care providers. This definition includes employees who may not directly interact with patients but provide services that are integrated with and necessary for the provision of patient care,” AHCA/NCAL said.<br></p><p>Examples of duties considered necessary for patient care include bathing, dressing, and feeding a patient/resident who cannot perform the activity independently. For assisted living, this could include direct care providers, certified nurse assistants, personal care assistants, or other titles providing direct care to residents. <br>Previously, all employees, regardless of job activity, in a health care facility were included in the broad definition of health care provider and thus excluded from the paid leave requirements, AHCA/NCAL said. <br></p><p>The Labor Department defines covered employees as “employees who do not provide health care services, even if their services could affect the provision of health care services.” Examples include building maintenance staff, human resources personnel, cooks, food service workers, and records and billing staff. &#160;<br></p><p>Covered paid sick leave for non-health care staff includes&#58; <br>■ Up to two weeks of COVID-19-related paid sick leave if an employee is&#58; &#160;<br>• Under quarantine order from a government entity (local, state, or federal); <br>• Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; <br>• Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis; <br>• Caring for another who meets any of the above conditions; or <br>• Caring for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed due to COVID-19-related reasons. <br></p><p>EFMLEA for non-health care staff includes&#58; <br>■ Up to 12 weeks of expanded family and medical leave, some of which is paid in certain circumstances, if unable to work due to need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed due to COVID-19-related reasons. <br></p><p>Currently, the coronavirus leave requirements are in place through Dec. 31, 2020. Providers should familiarize themselves with these&#160;new requirements,&#160;which were to go into effect on Wednesday, Sept. 16.<br>​</p>2020-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/1020_News2.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Workforce;DOLPatrick Connole​The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an update to the temporary rule the agency issued in April regarding worker leave related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some Assisted Living Providers to Get COVID Relief Funding<p>The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has&#160;announced&#160;that private-pay assisted living/memory care providers will be eligible to apply for CARES Act Provider Relief Funds under the current Phase 2 General Distribution round of COVID-19 funding. &#160;<br></p><p>Like other providers applying for Phase 2 funding, eligible assisted living communities will receive 2 percent of their annual revenue from patient care, according to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), part of the American Health Care Association.<br></p><p>In response, Scott Tittle,&#160;executive director of NCAL, said, “This financial aid is welcome news for the tens of thousands of assisted living providers and the hundreds of thousands of seniors they serve.”<br></p><p>For six months, he said, assisted living caregivers have been diverting significant resources to help acquire personal protective equipment, testing, and additional support for staff.<br></p><p>“Funding from the federal government will help ensure assisted living providers continue these efforts to keep their residents and staff safe, as well as remain a reliable long term care option for their local communities,” Tittle said.<br></p><p>“Coupled with the news that rapid, antigen tests are being delivered to assisted living communities across the country, we greatly appreciate HHS for recognizing the importance of supporting our long term care sector during this crisis.”<br></p><p>HHS also had&#160;announced that the shipments of the rapid COVID-19 testing equipment will come from a supply of 150 million ordered from test maker Abbott Laboratories.<br></p>2020-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/PublishingImages/Headshots/ScottTittle.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;Capitol HillPatrick Connole​HHS has announced that private-pay assisted living/memory care providers will be eligible to apply for CARES Act Provider Relief Funds under the current Phase 2 General Distribution round of COVID-19 funding.