More Money and Assistance Headed to Nursing Homes to Protect Residents from COVID-19

Client Alert

Gibbons Special Alert

July 28, 2020

On July 22, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that $5 billion will be made available to Medicare-certified long-term care facilities and state veterans’ homes. This is in addition to $4.9 billion made available to nursing homes in May. The additional $5 billion originates from the Provider Relief Fund established by the CARES Act and can be used to hire additional staff, implement infection control “mentorship” programs, and procure technology that helps residents connect with their families if in-person visitation is not possible.

Receipt of funds from this distribution is conditioned on testing and training requirements:

Testing Requirement

  • Nursing homes in states with a positivity rate of 5 percent or higher must test all nursing home staff each week. CMS promises to distribute more than 15,000 testing devices over the next few months to help support this testing requirement.

Training Requirement

  • Nursing homes must participate in a 23-module, online, self-paced, on-demand Nursing Home COVID-19 Training program that focuses on infection control and best practices – e.g., cohorting strategies and telehealth.

The training curriculum is based on federally deployed nursing home “Task Force Strike Teams” that targeted nursing homes based on data reported to the CDC that indicated increases in COVID-19 cases. The teams focused on four key areas: (1) keeping COVID-19 out of the facilities; (2) detecting COVID-19 quickly; (3) preventing transmission; and (4) managing staff.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented attention and scrutiny to nursing home care, and Gibbons has addressed developing matters in the nursing home industry in previously published Client Alerts. For example, we have issued Client Alerts discussing increased scrutiny placed on nursing homes by CMS and Medicare coverage for COVID-19 testing in nursing homes.