Coronavirus

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are working with the federal government​​​ to ensure nursing hom​​es, assisted living communities, and intermediate care facilities for indiv​​iduals with intellectual disabilities receive necessary supplies and guidance to prevent the spread ​of this virus.​

Visit this website regularly for the latest information that AHCA/NCAL has to share with long term care providers about COVID-19. 


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How You Can Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

 Providers

Please note tha​t skilled nursing providers should consult the guidance put forth by CMS and the CDC, and assisted living communities should consult CDC guidance. Providers should also check their local and state health departments for updates and potentially stricter guidance, but these are general, national prevention and containment tips:

 
Infection Control: Maintain i​nfection control policies and procedures, updated where needed and increase transmission-based precautions.
 
Staff: #GetVaccinated! Regularly wash your hands and use PPE where appropriate. Stay home if you're sick.​ ​
 
Limit Interactions: Implement social distancing within the facility where possible to help prevent the spread of infection.
 
PPE: Regularly review federal and state guidance on appropriate use of masks, gowns, gloves, etc. and maintain your inventory​.
 
Communicate: Report suspected or confirmed cases to authorities. Keep residents, families and staff informed about your developing situation. Prepare for media inquiries.
 
Engagement: Follow government guidelines for safe in-person visitations, keep residents connected with loved ones remotely, and offer meaningful activities adapted for this situation​.


If a staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19: Have them go home immediately. 

If a resident shows symptoms of ​COVID-19​: Implement droplet precaution, and contact the local health department. ​


 Families

Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious threat to older adults (especially 80 years old and older) and those with underlying health conditions. This is why in certain circumstances the federal government and many state governments are restricting visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities. Adaptations (e.g., limited indoor and outdoor visits) and exceptions on a case-by-case basis (e.g., end-of-life or compassionate care visits) may be made. ​We understand this is difficult, but the safety and wellbeing of your loved one is our top priority.  

Here’s how you can continue to stay in touch with them, and how you can help: 

  • Communicate with your loved ones through alternative ways for the time being, whether by phone, video, social media, or other methods. Ask the facility about ways they can help with this.  
  • Make sure your loved one’s facility has your emergency contact information. The facility may need to communicate with you about any developments regarding your loved one or about the facility as a whole.
    • Many long term care facilities are only permitted to share information about a resident to a designated health representative. Work together as a family unit to share information to keep everyone informed.       
  • If you must come to the facility, coordinate with the staff ahead of time. Learn more about how you can prepare for a visit to a long term care facility
    • They may ask you some questions, take your temperature, have you take a COVID test, and/or make sure you’re wearing proper protective equipment (like a mask) when you arrive. This is to make sure you do not pose as a potential risk to residents and staff.  
    • If you are asked to not enter the building, please understand this is for the safety of your loved one and everyone else in the building. Nursing homes and assisted living communities are following direction from the government to prevent the spread of this virus.  
    • ​If you are permitted in, please wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately upon entering and throughout your visit. Wear a mask and any other protective equipment as directed by the facility. Avoid touching your loved ones or other individuals in the building. Again, we know this is difficult, but the virus is very contagious and social distancing is important at this time. ​
  • Do your part to help slow the spread of COVID-19. High community spread is linked to outbreaks in nursing homes. Follow the CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others. Get the COVID-19 vaccine, when you are eligible. 
  • ​Warn your loved ones about potential scammers during this crisis and encourage them to be cautious.​

 Residents

Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious threat to older adults (especially 80 years old and older) and those with underlying health conditions. This is why in certain circumstances the federal government and many state governments are restricting visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities. We understand this is a difficult and stressful time. Those who work in long term care facilities are focused on your safety and wellbeing.  

Here’s how you can continue to stay in touch with your loved ones, and how you can help: 

  • Ask the facility about other ways you can communicate with your loved ones, whether by phone, video or social media.  
  • If you haven't already, get the COVID-19 vaccine. Your facility is working with a pharmacy or state/local officials to offer vaccinations​ and can provide more specific information about how and when this will work. 
  • Follow everyday preventive actions such as: 
    • ​Washing your hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers 
    • Covering your cough and sneezes ​
    • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth 
    • Keeping 6-feet distance from other residents and staff (when possible) 
  • ​Ask other individuals (including staff) to avoid touching you with handshakes, hugs or kisses. Ask them to wash their hands. Do not be shy! It’s okay to remind people.
  • Watch out for potential scammers​ during this crisis. 
  • If you begin to experience difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell​, tell a staff member immediately.​

 

 

Public Health Emergency Extendedhttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/Public-Health-Emergency-Extended-Jan-2022.aspxPublic Health Emergency Extended1/14/2022 5:00:00 AM<p>​Today, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the <a href="https://aspr.hhs.gov/legal/PHE/Pages/COVID19-14Jan2022.aspx" data-feathr-click-track="true">declaration </a>that a public health emergency exists. This is effective January 16, 2022 and will continue for 90 days pursuant to federal law. <br></p><div><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">PHE renewal through mid-April is welcome news. It provides for the uninterrupted continuation of several flexibilities that have protected beneficiary access to important services in as safe and effective manner as possible. With this renewal:<br><br></span></div><div><ul><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">Enhanced FMAP to states (6.2%) is extended to at least June 30, 2022, and will be further if the PHE is extended again in April.  The increased FMAP ends in the calendar year quarter in which the PHE ends;</span></li><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">​All 1135 waivers will continue including </span></li><ul><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">Temporary nurse aide </span></li><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">Waiver of required three day hospital state to​ access skilled nursing benefits</span></li><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">Spell of Illness</span></li></ul><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">All state Medicaid flexibilities will continue including</span></li><ul><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">Expedited state plan amendment review</span></li><li><span style="font-size:14.6667px;">Waiver of Medicaid redetermination requirements</span></li></ul></ul></div><div><br>​<br></div><p>​</p>
Nursing Home Industry Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandatehttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Home-Industry-Reacts-to-Supreme-Court-Ruling-on-Health-Care-Worker-Vaccine-Mandate.aspxNursing Home Industry Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandate1/13/2022 5:00:00 AM<p></p><div><strong>WASHINGTON, D.C. –</strong> The American Health Care Association (AHCA), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the vaccine mandate for health care workers.</div><div><br></div><div>The statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA.</div><div><br></div><div>"We respect the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court but remain concerned that the repercussions of the vaccine mandate among health care workers will be devastating to an already decimated long term care workforce. When we are in the midst of another COVID surge, caregivers in vaccine hesitant communities may walk off the job because of this policy, further threatening access to care for thousands of our nation's seniors. We continue to ask that CMS and state surveyors show leniency during this critical time as well as consider a regular testing option for unvaccinated staff members to prevent worsening staff shortages. </div><div> </div><div>“Long term care providers have been relentless in encouraging staff to get vaccinated, and we have made considerable progress with 83 percent of nursing home staff now fully vaccinated. However, rampant misinformation has sowed doubt and concern among many on the frontlines. We must collectively address the root cause of vaccine hesitancy rather than penalize providers who are making valiant efforts.”<br></div><div><br></div>The American Health Care Association released the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the vaccine mandate for health care workers.
U.S. Supreme Court Issues Vaccine Mandate Decisionshttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/U-S--Supreme-Court-Issues-Vaccine-Mandate-Decisions.aspxU.S. Supreme Court Issues Vaccine Mandate Decisions1/13/2022 5:00:00 AM<div>​The U.S. Supreme Court today issued opinions in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccination requirement cases.  <br></div><div><br></div><div>The bottom line is as follows: <br></div><div><ul><li>The preliminary injunctions against enforcement of the CMS interim final rule have been stayed, meaning that CMS can enforce its IFR nationwide; and </li><li>The OSHA emergency temporary standards have been stayed, meaning they <span style="text-decoration:underline;">cannot</span> be enforced. <br></li></ul></div><div style="text-align:center;"><strong>What This Means for Long Term Care Providers </strong></div><div><br></div><div>Nursing facilities and facilities that care for individuals with disabilities (ICF/IIDs) nationwide will be required to implement <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/11/05/2021-23831/medicare-and-medicaid-programs-omnibus-covid-19-health-care-staff-vaccination?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=CMS%e2%80%99+rule&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">CMS’ rule</a>. <strong>Assisted living providers are not included in the CMS IFR and are now not subject to a federal vaccine/testing requirement. </strong></div><div><br></div><div>The <a href="https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-22-07-all-attachment-ltc.pdf?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=QSO+memo+specific+to+nursing+homes&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">QSO memo specific to nursing homes</a> outlines the requirements that long term care providers must meet in order to be in compliance with this rule. AHCA/NCAL has highlighted key points below, but<span style="text-decoration:underline;"> providers are strongly encouraged to review the QSO memo in full</span>. </div><div><br></div><div><span style="font-size:14.6667px;"><strong>Update</strong>: CMS must issue an updated QSO memo to implement this is the 25 states previously excluded by court order. They may update the implementation dates for those states. AHCA will monitor this situation and update you as soon as there is news.</span><br></div><div><br></div><div><strong><em>Which staff fall under the rule? </em></strong></div><div>Staff refers to all individuals providing any care or services for the facility and its residents, whether under contract or arrangement. The only individuals this does not apply to are individuals who telework full time or who provide services entirely remotely. </div><div><br></div><div><strong><em>When are facilities required to be in compliance? </em></strong></div><div>CMS implementation will be phased in as follows: </div><div><ul><li><strong>​January 27, 2022</strong> for the first dose, which includes: </li><ul><li>​Policies and procedures developed and implemented (template policies and procedures are available on the AHCA/NCAL COVID-19 website under 'Vaccines'). </li><li>​100 percent of staff having received one dose of vaccine, except those with or pending an exemption request and those having a temporary delay recommended by the CDC. </li><li>​A facility above 80 percent and has a plan to achieve a 100 percent staff vaccination rate within 60 days would not be subject to enforcement action (e.g., civil monetary penalties [CMPs]). </li></ul><li><strong>February 28, 2022 </strong>for the second dose, which includes: </li><ul><li>​​​​​​​​Policies and procedures developed and implemented. </li><li>​100 percent of staff having completed the vaccine series, except those with granted exemption request and those having a temporary delay recommended by the CDC. </li><li>​A facility above 90 percent and has a plan to achieve a 100 percent staff vaccination rate within 30 days would not be subject to enforcement action (e.g., CMPs). </li></ul><li>Facilities with less than 100 percent staff vaccination rates may be cited but will be exempted from enforcement actions (e.g., CMPs) if they meet the following criteria: </li><ul><li>​​​​​​​​January 27, 2022: Facility has more than 80 percent staff vaccination and a plan to achieve a 100 percent staff vaccination rate within 60 days. </li><li>​February 28, 2022: Facility has more than 90 percent vaccination rates and a plan to achieve a 100 percent staff vaccination rate within 30 days.   </li></ul></ul></div><div><strong><em>How will compliance be determined? </em></strong></div><div>Compliance will be determined through the regular survey process, including through standard and complaint visits. Facilities are expected to track vaccination status, including booster status for each staff person and any exemptions, using a tracking tool of their choice. A facilities' tracking mechanism should clearly identify each staff's role, assigned work area, and how they interact with residents. Survey teams will also ask for information on how unvaccinated staff are assigned and additional precautions taken to prevent transmission. CMS will provide a tool for facilities to use.​ </div><div><br></div><div><strong><em>How will citations, including scope and severity, be determined? </em></strong></div><div>Facilities found out of compliance (less 100 percent of staff vaccinated, not including those with valid exemptions) will receive a citation with scope and severity based on staff vaccination rates, number of COVID-19 cases, policy and procedure implementation, and infection control practices. </div><div><br></div><div>On page 10-11 of the <a href="https://www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-22-07-all-attachment-ltc.pdf?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=QSO+memo&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">QSO memo</a>, CMS provides detailed guidance on scope and severity and a scope and severity grid on page 14.  </div><div><br></div><div><strong><em>Do unvaccinated staff need to follow any special precautions? </em></strong><br></div><div>Yes, staff who are not yet fully vaccinated, who have a pending or been granted an exemption, or who have a temporary delay as recommended by the CDC must adhere to additional precautions that are intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This includes, but is not limited to: </div><div><ul><li>Reassign unvaccinated staff to non-patient areas and duties. </li><li>Require staff who have not completed their primary vaccination series to follow additional <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control-recommendations.html?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=CDC-recommended+prec%e2%80%8bautions&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control-recommendations.html?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=CDC-recommended+prec%e2%80%8bautions&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">CDC-recommended precautions</a>, such as adhering to universal source control and physical distancing measures even if the facility is located in a county with low-to-moderate community COVID transmission. Although OSHA’s vaccine mandate is not in effect, there are additional <a href="https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=OSHA-required+measures&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">OSHA-required measures</a> which should also be followed. </li><li>Require at least weekly testing. </li><li>Require use of a NIOSH-approved N95 or equivalent or higher-level respirator for source control, regardless of whether they are providing direct care to or otherwise interacting with patients. </li></ul></div><div><a href="https://educate.ahcancal.org/products/cmss-staff-vaccine-mandate-implementing-religious-medical-exemptions?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=Previous+AHCA/NCAL+webinars&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">Previous AHCA/NCAL webinars</a> provided detailed information on how to implement medical and religious exemptions. The Association will host a webinar on implementing the CMS IFR next week; additional information will be provided soon. </div><div><br></div><div>Additional information is available on <a href="https://educate.ahcancal.org/?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=ahcancalED&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">ahcancalED</a> and <a href="https://getvaccinated.us/?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=COVID-19+Update+%23+259&cm_pla=Marks+Memos+2022+List&cm_ite=%23GetVaccinated&cm_lm=1354476613&cm_ainfo=&&&&&" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">#GetVaccinated</a>. Please contact <a href="mailto:covid19@ahca.org" data-feathr-click-track="true" style="text-decoration:underline;">COVID-19@ahca.org</a> with any questions. <br></div><p>​</p>​The U.S. Supreme Court today issued opinions in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccination requirement cases.
AHCA/NCAL Join Several Therapy Associations in Submitting Request for A COVID-19 Waiver to Protect Access to Medicare Part B Therapy Serviceshttps://www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/AHCANCAL-Join-Several-Therapy-Associations-in-Submitting-Request-for-A-COVID-19-Waiver-to-Protect-Access-to-Medicare-Part-B.aspxAHCA/NCAL Join Several Therapy Associations in Submitting Request for A COVID-19 Waiver to Protect Access to Medicare Part B Therapy Services1/12/2022 5:00:00 AM<p></p><div>Last week, AHCA/NCAL joined a coalition of five other national associations representing rehabilitation therapists in multiple settings in submitting a COVID-19 section 1135 waiver request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to suspend the recently implemented 15 percent payment differential for services furnished under Medicare Part B by physical and occupational therapy assistants (PTAs & OTAs). This request, intended to protect beneficiary access to therapy services during the current public health emergency (PHE), was followed up by a <a href="https://ahcancal.sharepoint.com/sites/ConnectionsNewsletters/Shared%20Documents/General/Blog%20Articles/Final%20Draft%20Assistant%20Reduction%20Waiver%20Request%20Joint%20Letter%201.10.2022.pdf" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">formal letter</a> submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials that oversee Part B therapy service coverage and payment policy. </div><div><br></div><div>AHCA/NCAL will update members on the HHS/CMS response and whether any additional advocacy efforts may be needed. Members may direct questions regarding this topic to <a href="mailto:dciolek@ahca.org" data-feathr-click-track="true" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">Dan Ciolek</a>.      <br></div><p>​</p>Last week, AHCA/NCAL joined a coalition of five other national associations representing rehabilitation therapists in multiple settings in submitting a COVID-19 section 1135

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