CMS recently issued several additional blanket waivers for nursing facilities and skilled nursing facilities. The new blanket waivers are in effect retroactive to March 1, 2020, for the duration of the public health emergency, as follows:
Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI)
CMS is modifying certain QAPI program requirements—specifically, §483.75(b)–(d) and (e)(3)—to the extent necessary to narrow the scope of the QAPI program to focus on adverse events and infection control. The following sections are waived:
- §483.75(b) Program design and scope, which includes “address all systems of care and management practices”;
- §483.75(c) Program feedback, data systems, and monitoring;
- §483.75(d) Program systematic analysis and systemic action; and
- §483.75(e)(3) Performance improvement projects.
CMS is modifying the requirement that nursing assistants must receive at least twelve (12) hours of in-service training annually by postponing the deadline for completing this requirement until the end of the first full quarter after the declaration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency concludes.
Information Sharing for Discharge Planning
CMS is waiving the discharge planning requirement that requires facilities to assist residents and their representatives in selecting a post-acute care provider using data, such as standardized patient assessment data, quality measures, and resource use. CMS is maintaining all other discharge planning requirements, including the discharge plan.
CMS is modifying the requirement that requires facilities to provide a resident a copy of their records within two (2) working days when requested by the resident by allowing facilities ten (1) working days to provide the requested record.
Inspection, Testing & Maintenance (ITM) under the Physical Environment
CMS is waiving certain physical environment requirements for providers, including ICF/IIDs and SNFs/NFs, to the extent necessary to permit facilities to adjust scheduled inspection, testing, and maintenance frequencies and activities for facility and medical equipment required by the Life Safety Code and Health Care Facilities Code. The following are considered critical and are not included in this waiver:
- Sprinkler system monthly electric motor-driven and weekly diesel engine-driven fire pump testing.
- Portable fire extinguisher monthly inspection.
- Elevators with firefighters’ emergency operations monthly testing.
- Emergency generator thirty (30) continuous minute monthly testing and associated transfer switch monthly testing.
- Means of egress daily inspection in areas that have undergone construction, repair, alterations, or additions to ensure its ability to be used instantly in case of emergency.
Resident Transfer and Discharge
CMS continues to waive requirements to allow a facility to transfer or discharge residents to another facility solely for the following cohorting purposes, with the added language in bold below.
- Transferring residents with symptoms of a respiratory infection or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 to another facility that agrees to accept each specific resident, and is dedicated to the care of such residents;
- Transferring residents without symptoms of a respiratory infection or confirmed to not have COVID-19 to another facility that agrees to accept each specific resident, and is dedicated to the care of such residents to prevent them from acquiring COVID-19, as well as providing treatment or therapy for other conditions as required by the resident’s plan of care; or
- Transferring residents without symptoms of a respiratory infection to another facility that agrees to accept each specific resident to observe for any signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection over 14 days.
Waive Pre-Admission Screening and Annual Resident Review (PASARR)
CMS is allowing nursing homes to admit new residents who have not received Level 1 or Level 2 Preadmission Screening. Level 1 assessments may be performed post-admission. On or before the 30th day of admission, new patients admitted to nursing homes with a mental illness (MI) or intellectual disability (ID) should be referred promptly by the nursing home to State PASARR program for Level 2 Resident Review. Please note, this language is included in the summary waiver list for all providers and differs slightly from the text in the LTC specific waiver summary.
CMS Facility without Walls (Temporary Expansion Sites) – Transfer of COVID Patients
- The transferring SNF need not issue a formal discharge in this situation, as it is still considered the provider and should bill Medicare normally for each day of care.
- The transferring SNF is then responsible for reimbursing the other provider that accepted its resident(s) during the emergency period.
- Processing Manual to submit a discharge bill to Medicare.
- View a CMS QSO memo on transfers
Cost Report Delay
- CMS will delay the filing deadline of FYE 10/31/2019 cost reports due by March 31, 2020 and FYE 11/30/2019 cost reports due by April 30, 2020. The extended cost report due dates for these October and November FYEs will be June 30, 2020.
- CMS will also delay the filing deadline of the FYE 12/31/2019 cost reports due by May 31, 2020. The extended cost report due date for FYE 12/31/2019 will be July 31, 2020.
- CMS is waiving the requirements of section 1834(m)(4)(E) of the Act and 42 CFR § 410.78 (b)(2) which specify the types of practitioners that may bill for their services when furnished as Medicare telehealth services from the distant site.
- This waiver expands the types of health care professionals that can furnish distant site telehealth services to include all those that are eligible to bill Medicare for their professional services.
- This allows health care professionals who were previously ineligible to furnish and bill for Medicare telehealth services, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and others, to receive payment for Medicare telehealth services.