March 23, 2020

COVID-19 Emergency Declaration for SNFs

By Donna Zoellick, Director, Advisory Services

COVID-19 Emergency Declaration for SNFs Coronavirus Resource Center

In an attempt to assist healthcare providers combat and control the spread of the Coronavirus disease, the Trump Administration has empowered the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to take action.  As a result, following are some of the blanket waivers that are now available for skilled nursing facilities (SNF).

CMS is waiving the requirement for a minimum 3-day hospital stay for Medicare coverage in a SNF. This allows temporary emergency coverage of SNF services for Medicare beneficiaries who need to be transferred into a SNF as the result of a disaster or emergency. In addition, CMS has authorized renewed SNF coverage for any Medicare beneficiaries affected by this health emergency, who have exhausted their SNF benefits, without the need to begin a new benefit period.  And lastly, CMS is providing relief to SNFs on the timeline requirements for MDS assessments and transmissions. Click here for a full list of the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration provisions

In further attempts to control the spread of COVID-19, CMS is requiring that all SNFs nationwide restrict all visits by non-residents and non-essential healthcare personnel. There is an exception for end-of-life situations.  In those cases, visitation will be limited to a specific room with the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks. Decisions to allow end-of-life visitation should be made on a case-by-case basis, with a prescreening of the visitor for fever or respiratory symptoms. If any symptoms are present, the visitation should not be allowed. CMS and state surveyors will be allowed to enter a facility as long as they also wear PPD and do not have evidence of a fever.

Please note that if a specific state issues actions that exceed this CMS requirement, those must also be followed.

Just as the general public has been advised, nursing facility residents are also asked to practice social distancing and frequent hand washing, along with the elimination of communal dining and group activities. All staff should be screened for fever and respiratory symptoms when arriving for their shifts. Click here to view the complete CMS Memorandum of guidance for nursing homes.

If you have any questions about regulations pertaining to coronavirus safety measures in nursing homes, please reach out to your Marcum healthcare professional.

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