Post-Acute Care & Nursing Facilities

On September 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released long-awaited details about upcoming reporting requirements for certain providers that accepted funding of one or more payments exceeding $10,000 from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). Key aspects of HHS’ new PRF reporting guidance are summarized in today’s legal alert.
Continue Reading HHS Releases New Details on Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirements

The Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced on August 7th details of the next CARES Act-authorized nursing home Provider Relief Fund (“PRF”) distribution. The PRF distribution will total $5 billion, and will be used to protect residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities from the impact of COVID-19.
Continue Reading HHS Announces additional $5 billion distribution to nursing homes

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (“HHSC”) announced on August 6th that limited visitation would be allowed at certain nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the state. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities must submit a form to their LTCR Regional Director to be permitted to allow limited visitation. Permitted nursing facilities may allow outdoor visits, window visits, vehicle parades, and compassionate care visits. Permitted long-term care facilities may also allow plexiglass indoor visits, provided that their visitation booth is approved by HHSC. Conditions for approval are listed in the HHSC LTCR Provider Letter.
Continue Reading Limited Visitation in Nursing homes and Assisted Living Facilities in Texas

For long-term care (“LTC”) facilities such as assisted living facilities and nursing homes, the high risk of spread once coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) enters a facility  means such facilities must take immediate action to protect residents, families, and healthcare personnel from severe infections, hospitalizations, and death.  One such action that many States are taking is mandatory testing for the residents and employees of LTC facilities.  Specifically, several states, including West Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, are now requiring mandatory testing of residents and employees of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.  Other states have similar proposed legislation in the works, including Pennsylvania, and it is likely that the number of states implementing such measures will continue to grow in the coming weeks and months. The White House has also indicated that the federal government may mandate testing nationwide for all nursing home residents and employees. While widespread testing of residents is an appropriate measure to protect the populations most vulnerable to the disease, mandatory testing raises the issue of whether and how to obtain informed consent from residents, many of whom use a medical powers of attorney (“MPOA”) for decisions regarding their care.
Continue Reading Mandatory COVID-19 Testing Implications for LTC Facilities

On May 12, 2020 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued additional 1135 blanket waivers which are applicable to a wide variety of healthcare providers. These COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Healthcare Providers are retroactively effective from March 1, 2020 through the end of the public health emergency (PHE). The waivers in this issuance do not require a request be sent or a notification be made to any of the CMS regional offices.  Each waiver must be consistent with the state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan.

Continue Reading CMS Adds Additional Blanket Waivers for Healthcare Providers

There is a common saying in healthcare – “if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.” In the healthcare industry, and particularly in the long-term care (“LTC”) sector, clinical and operational documentation has long been critical for purposes of ensuring appropriate patient care and demonstrating compliance with the myriad regulatory requirements imposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), as well as state licensing and Medicaid agencies.

COVID-19 clearly presents unique challenges to LTC facilities. Although infection control and emergency planning protocols are not new to LTC facilities, the rapidly changing landscape of guidance issued by federal, state, and local regulatory bodies relating to COVID-19 has placed LTC facilities in a position where they must implement, and simultaneously communicate to staff, residents, and resident family members, new or updated clinical and operational protocols on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Given the urgency in ensuring appropriate protocols are in place, there is often an emphasis on action, as opposed to documenting the actions taken.
Continue Reading LTC Facility Documentation during COVID-19

On April 7, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) in the closely-watched Northport case. In this case, certain nursing facility industry plaintiffs challenged the enforceability of the most recent iteration of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (“CMS”) rule governing the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements with residents in long-term care (“LTC”) facilities that participate in the Medicare or Medicaid programs. In finding for the government, the Northport court held that the rule was a valid exercise of CMS’s authority under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”), was adopted in accordance with federal procedural rules, and does not conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”).
Continue Reading Federal District Court Upholds CMS Pre-Dispute Arbitration Rule

On April 2, 2020, at the direction of the president, CMS issued additional guidance [https://go.cms.gov/2V1QBdM] regarding the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 in the country’s nursing facilities. The guidance was apparently issued in response to recent onsite observations by CMS and CDC experts in nursing facilities. In short, the guidance addresses five key issues:
Continue Reading CMS Releases Guidance to Nursing Facilities at President’s Request

On March 24, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) prepared correspondence to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeking waivers of certain Medicaid requirements pursuant to Section 1135 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 1320b-5) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The correspondence to CMS was shared on March 24, 2020 with the Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Finance seeking their approval to submit the Section 1135 Waiver to CMS. The letter to CMS prepared by DHS states that Wisconsin is implementing all the blanket waivers issued by CMS on March 13, 2020 in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to the extent applicable.
Continue Reading Wisconsin DHS requests authority to seek additional Medicaid Waivers from CMS

Since February 6, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid  (CMS) issued official Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for health care providers in all care settings to implement in an effort to control the rate of COVID-19 transmission. However, a special focus is on nursing facilities because these facilities house the country’s population most susceptible to COVID-19. In the CDC’s March 18, 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the agency highlights the COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home in King County, Seattle, Washington, in which 81 of the 130 residents (62%) contracted COVID-19, and 49 of those residents were hospitalized. The median age of the infected residents was 81 years old. To date, 80% of deaths related to COVID-19 are of persons 65 years old or greater.  Therefore, it is imperative nursing homes take drastic measures to reduce the risk of severe illness or death associated with COVID-19. Husch Blackwell’s answers to the Frequently Asked Questions below follow the current CDC and CMS guidance which outlines these drastic measures.
Continue Reading COVID-19 FAQs for Nursing Facilities