The Trump Administration is taking aggressive actions and exercising regulatory flexibilities to help healthcare providers contain the spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). CMS is empowered to take proactive steps through 1135 waivers as well as, where applicable, the authority granted under section 1812(f) of the Social Security Act (the Act) and rapidly expand the Administration’s aggressive efforts against COVID-19. As a result, the following blanket waivers are in effect, with a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020, through the end of the emergency declaration.
3-Day Prior Hospitalization
Using the authority under Section 1812(f) of the Act, CMS is waiving the requirement for a 3-day prior hospitalization for coverage of an SNF stay, which provides temporary emergency coverage of SNF services without a qualifying hospital stay, for those people who experience dislocations or are otherwise affected by COVID-19. In addition, for certain beneficiaries who recently exhausted their SNF benefits, it authorizes renewed SNF coverage without first having to start a new benefit period (this waiver will apply only for those beneficiaries who have been delayed or prevented by the emergency itself from commencing or completing the process of ending their current benefit period and renewing their SNF benefits that would have occurred under normal circumstances).
CMS is Waiving Requirements Related at 42 CFR 483.90, Specifically the following:
Provided that the state has approved the location as one that sufficiently addresses safety and comfort for patients and staff, CMS is waiving requirements under § 483.90 to allow for a non-SNF building to be temporarily certified and available for use by an SNF in the event there are needs for isolation processes for COVID-19 positive residents, which may not be feasible in the existing SNF structure to ensure care and services during treatment for COVID-19 are available while protecting other vulnerable adults. CMS believes this will also provide another measure that will free up inpatient care beds at hospitals for the most acute patients while providing beds for those still in need of care. CMS will waive certain conditions of participation and certification requirements for opening an NF if the state determines there is a need to quickly stand up a temporary COVID-19 isolation and treatment location.
CMS is also waiving requirements under 42 CFR 483.90 to temporarily allow for rooms in a long-term care facility not normally used as a resident’s room, to be used to accommodate beds and residents for resident care in emergencies and situations needed to help with surge capacity. Rooms that may be used for this purpose include activity rooms, meeting/conference rooms, dining rooms, or other rooms, as long as residents can be kept safe, comfortable, and other applicable requirements for participation are met. This can be done so long as it is not inconsistent with a state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan, or as directed by the local or state health department.
Reporting Minimum Data Set
CMS is waiving 42 CFR 483.20 to provide relief to SNFs on the timeframe requirements for Minimum Data Set assessments and transmission.
Staffing Data Submission
CMS is waiving 42 CFR 483.70(q) to provide relief to long-term care facilities on the requirements for submitting staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal system.
Waive Pre-Admission Screening and Annual Resident Review (PASARR)
CMS is waiving 42 CFR 483.20(k) allowing states and nursing homes to suspend these assessments for new residents for 30 days. After 30 days, new patients admitted to nursing homes with a mental illness (MI) or intellectual disability (ID) should receive the assessment as soon as resources become available.
CMS is waiving the requirements at 42 CFR 483.10(f)(5), which ensures residents can participate in-person in resident groups. This waiver would only permit the facility to restrict in-person meetings during the national emergency given the recommendations of social distancing and limiting gatherings of more than ten people. Refraining from in-person gatherings will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Training and Certification of Nurse Aides
CMS is waiving the requirements at 42 CFR 483.35(d) (with the exception of 42 CFR 483.35(d)(1)(i)), which require that an SNF and NF may not employ anyone for longer than four months unless they met the training and certification requirements under § 483.35(d). CMS is waiving these requirements to assist in potential staffing shortages seen with the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure the health and safety of nursing home residents, CMS is not waiving 42 CFR § 483.35(d)(1)(i), which requires facilities to not use any individual working as a nurse aide for more than four months, on a full-time basis, unless that individual is competent to provide nursing and nursing-related services. We further note that we are not waiving § 483.35(c), which requires facilities to ensure that nurse aides are able to demonstrate competency in skills and techniques necessary to care for residents’ needs, as identified through resident assessments, and described in the plan of care.
Physician Visits in Skilled Nursing Facilities/Nursing Facilities
CMS is waiving the requirement in 42 CFR 483.30 for physicians and non-physician practitioners to perform in-person visits for nursing home residents and allow visits to be conducted, as appropriate, via telehealth options.
Resident Roommates and Grouping
CMS is waiving the requirements in 42 CFR 483.10(e) (5), (6), and (7) solely for the purposes of grouping or cohorting residents with respiratory illness symptoms and/or residents with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and separating them from residents who are asymptomatic or tested negative for COVID-19. This action waives a facility’s requirements, under 42 CFR 483.10, to provide for a resident to share a room with his or her roommate of choice in certain circumstances, to provide notice and rationale for changing a resident’s room, and to provide for a resident’s refusal a transfer to another room in the facility. This aligns with CDC guidance to preferably place residents in locations designed to care for COVID-19 residents, to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to other residents.
In case of any confusion related to COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for SNFs and NFs, you can take the assistance of Medical Billers and Coders (MBC). To know more about Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) billing and coding services contact us at 888-357-3226/ firstname.lastname@example.org