Coronavirus Update #138
HFAM Update
Provider Relief Portal for Assisted Living
New MDS Effective October 1
CMS to Deliver "Point of Care" COVID Test Kits
HFAM Update


Thanks for all you are doing to provide quality care to Marylanders in need during this unprecedented time. You and your healthcare heroes continue to save lives. Today more people are living and recovering in our sector than are dying from COVID-19. Every single death is a tragedy to be mourned, and every life saved is to be cherished.

With the cost and coordination that goes into weekly mandatory universal testing, we are indeed fortunate that the State of Maryland continues to provide, coordinate, and pay for universal testing of residents, patients, and staff in our sector through August 1.

I’ve checked in with many of you and know that if each center had to pay for weekly universal testing it would cost between $25,000 to $75,000 a week – a financial knockout punch for most in our critical healthcare sector, which would put at serious risk the healthcare safety net that we provide to Marylanders most in need. 

Still, clinically broad testing is the right thing to do right now, and it is required to re-open our sector. It is critical to quality care, our relationship with government, and the brand and reputation of our sector to get our testing with MDH right.

I know working with various labs and some state and local partners on testing has not gone smoothly, that’s the truth. And it is also the truth that the behavior of others is not in our control.

What is in our control is the consistent action providers in our sector take to get testing right – and considering the stakes: the State of Maryland providing testing right now and the cost of doing it ourselves (paying for testing would require about a 13 percent Medicaid rate increase). It is REALLY important we get these MDH testing rounds right on our end.

I am 100 percent vested and committed to the success of each of you and thankful for the quality care you provide! I’m All IN. Deep thanks for all you do. Onward together. Critical marathon is an understatement. WE WILL get though this together!

Be well,
Joe DeMattos
President and CEO

CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Portal

Thank you for all you and your teams do to provide home and a place of community for those residing on your assisted living campus. In this historic time of risk and uncertainty, you work hard 24/7 to create neighborhoods of sanctuary -- all while fighting together to protect the Marylanders you serve from COVID-19. Below are steps to take action, as well as an update.

ACTION:  If you are serving Marylanders on Medicaid, we strongly encourage you to go to the Federal CARES Act Portal before this Friday, July 17 to seek federal emergency grant payment of relief. The Congress enacted and the President set aside those limited dollars for the benefit of Medicaid providers, even on assisted living campuses. 

Here is a link to the portal:

BACKGROUND:  As we shared in our 114th and 115th sector wide coronavirus email updates, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a web application portal for Medicaid providers other than SNF Medicaid providers. The new Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal will initially be used for new submissions from Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers seeking payments under the Provider Relief Fund including assisted living communities, ICFs/ID-DD, and home and community-based providers.

UPDATE : In terms of a timely update, AHCA/NCAL continues to work with government leaders in Washington, DC to secure and make available to Assisted Living Campuses financial grant relief to help to underwrite loss of revenue for private pay elders depending on you for community and care. HFAM is joining to push hard and smart for the critical help you need in this historic time.

In the meantime, if you do provide Medicaid funded care, take action
and go online to apply for CARES Act relief by this Friday.
Patient Driven Payment Model/New Minimum Data Set (MDS)

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) has released a memorandum to nursing facilities administrators regarding CMS Minimum Data Set (MDS) version 1.17.2, which will be effective October 1, 2020. Please click here to view the full memo.

If you have any questions, please contact Mary Tarenyika at
CMS to Deliver ‘Point-of-Care’ COVID-19 Test Kits to Nursing Homes

Yesterday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announced that COVID-19 point-of-care testing devices will be distributed to 2,000 nursing homes across the country. Click here to read more.

AHCA/NCAL Statement:

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement after CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced that COVID-19 point-of-care testing devices will be distributed to 2,000 nursing homes across the country.
The following statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL:
“Today’s announcement from Administrator Verma is welcome news for long term care residents, staff and providers. Repeated, ongoing testing is the only way we are going to beat this virus. Regular testing of nursing home and assisted living staff is a vital step in controlling the spread of COVID-19, but is not effective without obtaining timely test results. For nursing homes and assisted living communities to protect residents and staff, we need on-site testing with reliable and rapid results.
“The facilities that will receive these machines will be able to conduct on-site testing and receive timely results. Recently, 87% of nursing homes and assisted living communities said obtaining test results back from lab companies is taking multiple days or more to process.
“Due to the nature of this virus, every interaction is a risk. Social distancing is not an option, as residents need personal, one-on-one care and assistance with daily activities. That is why nursing homes and assisted living communities have been calling for access to additional testing, personal protective equipment and staffing. With the proper resources, long term care facilities can better identify who has the virus and make tactical decisions to protect residents and staff. We look forward to working with HHS and Administrator Verma to expand this program and make rapid testing widely available for more providers in the coming months.”
Did you miss HFAM's previous alerts?

Visit our website to view all previous HFAM alerts, as well as guidance
from our federal and state partners.
Thank you.

We cannot thank you enough for the dedication and diligence in doing all that you can for the residents in your communities. HFAM continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic with our state and national partners and will do all we can to support you during this time.