CMS Announces New COVID-19 Resources for Nursing Facilities
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this week announced a series of initiatives intended to protect nursing home residents throughout the country from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These actions include:
- $5 Billion in Additional Funding – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will dedicate $5 billion of the Provider Relief Fund authorized by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to Medicare-certified long term care facilities and state veterans’ homes to build nursing home skills and enhance nursing homes’ response to COVID-19, including enhanced infection control. Funding could be used to address critical needs in nursing homes including hiring additional staff, implementing infection control “mentorship” programs with subject matter experts, increasing testing, and providing additional services. Nursing homes must participate in the Nursing Home COVID-19 Training to be qualified to receive this funding.
- Enhanced Testing Activities – CMS will now begin requiring, rather than recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a five percent positivity rate or greater test all nursing home staff each week. More than 15,000 testing devices will be deployed over the next several months to support this mandate with over 600 devices shipping this week. Funds from the Provider Relief Fund can also be used to pay for additional testing of visitors.
- Additional Technical Assistance and Support – CMS has recently deployed federal task force strike teams to provide onsite technical assistance and education to nursing homes experiencing outbreaks in an effort to help reduce transmission and the risk of COVID-19 spread among residents. CMS, in partnership with the CDC, is also rolling out an online, self-paced, on-demand Nursing Home COVID-19 Training focused on infection control and best practices. The training consists of 23 educational modules and a scenario-based learning module that include materials on cohorting strategies and using telehealth to assist facilities. The training will be available to all 15,400 nursing homes nationwide with specialized technical assistant to facilities who have been found to have infection prevention deficiencies.
Additional information on CMS’ activities are available here.