May 15, 2020
KHCA/KCAL is committed to providing our members with important updates. Below is a list of the most recent COVID-19 updates. Please visit our website for a list of complete updates.
Reporting Accurately to NHSN COVID-19
In   Update #65 , AHCA provided guidelines on accurately reporting staffing and PPE shortages to NHSN COVID-19 LTC module. As stated in the update, it is important the data reported to NHSN gives an accurate picture as this data will be used by state, federal governments and other stakeholders.
AHCA has received questions about the staffing guidance and have revised as shown below based on review of the latest CDC instruction for NHSN reporting.  

NHSN asks, “Does your organization have a shortage of staff and/or personnel?” Any of the following situations support a  YES  response: 
  • Staffing less than your facility needs or internal policies for staffing ratios (despite efforts made by the facility to secure staff) 
  • Employing crisis strategies for staffing shortage 
  • Using any temporary positions per waiver allowances (such as temporary nurse aide or temporary feeding assistant) or agency staff, yet staffing ratios for facility needs and internal policies are still not met 
As a reminder, keep documentation of efforts to secure more PPE as well as staffing . Report to your local and state health departments if employing contingency and crisis strategies to conserve PPE and staffing. 
CMS has contracted with 12 Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organizations (QIN-QIOs) to work with providers, community partners, beneficiaries and caregivers on data-driven quality improvement initiatives designed to improve the quality of care for beneficiaries across the United States. The QIN-QIOs are reaching out to nursing homes across the country to provide virtual technical assistance for homes that have an opportunity for improvement based on an analysis of previous citations for infection control deficiencies using publicly available data found on Nursing Home Compare.
CMS Releases Additional Blanket Waivers
On May 11th, CMS issued additional   waivers   for the healthcare community that provide the flexibilities needed to take care of patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). This is in addition to the waivers that were released on April 30. The following blanket waivers are in effect, with a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020 through the end of the emergency declaration. 

Paid Feeding Assistants 
CMS is modifying the minimum timeframe requirements for feeding assistant training to allow the training to be a minimum of 1 hour in length. CMS is not waiving any other requirements related to paid feeding assistants or the required training content which contains infection control training and other elements. Additionally, CMS is also not waiving or modifying the requirements which requires that a feeding assistant must work under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). 

With this waiver, AHCA/NCAL’s  Temporary Feeding Assistant training   is allowable. However, additional state requirements may need to be waived to permit individuals completing this program to assist with care in your location. We encourage you to contact your state survey agencies and state occupational licensing agencies, where applicable. 

Specific Life Safety Code (LSC) for Multiple Providers
CMS is waiving and modifying waivers under for ICF/IIDs and SNF/NFs. Specifically, CMS is modifying these requirements as follows: 

Alcohol-based Hand-Rub (ABHR) Dispensers : CMS is waiving the requirements for the placement of ABHR dispensers for use by staff and others due to the need for the increased use of ABHR. However, ABHRs contain ethyl alcohol, which is considered a flammable liquid, and there are restrictions on the storage and location of the containers. This includes restricting access by certain patient/resident populations to prevent accidental ingestion. 

Due to the increased fire risk for bulk containers (over five gallons) those will still need to be stored in a protected hazardous materials area. In addition, facilities should continue to protect ABHR dispensers against inappropriate use. 

Fire Drills : Due to the inadvisability of quarterly fire drills that move and bring staff together, CMS will instead permit a documented orientation training program related to the current fire plan, which considers current facility conditions. The training should instruct employees, including existing, new or temporary employees, on their current duties, life safety procedures and the fire protection devices in their assigned area. 

Temporary Construction : CMS is waiving requirements that would otherwise not permit temporary walls and barriers between patients. 
Guidance on Documentation for Use of COVID-19 SNF Reimbursement Waivers
The CMS  waivers  also consider requirements that would normally be in place for providers to receive reimbursement under Medicare or Medicaid. Most significant were the waiver of the 3-day prior inpatient hospital stay and the 60-day break in spell-of-illness requirements for SNF Part A benefit eligibility. 

Documentation will be critical to demonstrate an organization’s rationale for the use of the waivers. In a  previous update , AHCA/NCAL offered visual flowchart guidance to help with coverage determinations of these 1135 waivers. AHCA/NCAL has provided key  documentation guidelines   for supporting the employment of these waivers as it is foreseeable that after the emergency declaration is rescinded, CMS either through the Officer of the Inspector General (OIG) or through contractors will look to ensure that Medicare dollars were spent appropriately without fraud, waste and abuse.
Kansas Health Care Association and the Kansas Center for Assisted Living
1100 SW Gage Blvd Topeka, KS 66604
PH: 785-267-6003 FAX: 785-267-0833