COVID-19 UPDATE #130
January 22, 2021
SAFE START WEBINAR CANCELLED
We have just been notified by Aging and Long Term Support Administration (ALTSA) that the ALTSA/DOH LTC Safe Start webinar scheduled for Monday, January 25, is cancelled, as final approval of the updated plan is still pending. 

The webinar scheduled for Thursday, January 28, remains scheduled at this time, pending plan approval. We will share any additional information as we receive it. If you have not already done so, you can register for the January 28 webinar here.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER EXPLAINS INCENTIVES FOR SNFs
In a Dear Administrator letter dated January 21, 2021, skilled nursing providers are informed that due to ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, there is a critical need to create capacity in acute care hospitals to serve those who need emergency and intensive care during this ongoing outbreak. In March and November of 2020, DSHS responded to the COVID emergency by implementing Nursing Facility Admission Incentives, funding for the most recent of these incentives ended December 31, 2020. Ongoing partnering with skilled nursing facilities and hospitals expedited skilled nursing facility admissions for nearly 600 individuals during the two incentive periods.

Beginning in January, DSHS, Home and Community Services (HCS) Division, received approval to continue to offer incentives to SNFs who accept admissions from acute hospitals. DSHS is approving the following actions:

Home and Community Services will immediately implement a SNF admission incentive for transitions from acute care hospitals. Individuals with both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligible) newly admitting to nursing facilities from acute care hospitals during this period will receive a $100 add on to the Medicaid nursing facility rate for a period not to exceed six months when:
  • A client-specific approval letter is requested and approved by Home and Community Services prior to admission.
  • The Individual admits on or before January 31, 2021.
  • The Department receives a Nursing Facility Notice of Action confirming Admission date.
  • The Department has confirmed that this is a new Nursing Facility admission. Readmissions and Nursing Facility transfers are not eligible for this incentive.

All nursing home admission, transfer, and discharge rules continue to apply. If you have questions, please email Julie Cope or call her at (360) 725-2529.
DEAR ADMINISTRATOR LETTER SHARES INSIGHT ON UPDATES TO NURSING HOME COMPARE FOR SNFs
In a Dear Administrator letter dated January 19, 2021, skilled nursing providers are informed of CMS QSO 21-06-NH, a memo highlighting changes to the Five Star Quality Rating System on Nursing Home Compare. The letter highlights changes to the Five Star Quality Rating System and the transition to the new Care Compare website. Updates to the Five Star Quality Rating System include:
  • Health Inspection Ratings
  • Quality Measures

The letter provides details on these updates. The letter also explains CMS is transitioning to a redesigned website called Care Compare to replace the Nursing Home Compare website. On September 3, 2020, CMS announced the launch of Care Compare, a streamlined re-design of the Nursing Home Compare site. Beginning December 1, 2020, users are redirected to the new site. The Nursing Home Compare website, and the data.medicare.gov website (which houses the underlying data for the Nursing Home Compare website) are no longer available. There is no change in the information available about nursing homes or the methodology used to calculate ratings. If you have questions, please email Lisa Herke or call her at (509) 209-3088.
PROVIDER RELIEF FUND REPORTING REGISTRATION UPDATE
HHS recently launched the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Reporting Portal, which is only open for providers to set up user accounts and register to submit reports. Currently, HHS has not established a registration deadline or set a due date for first reports. The original due date was February 15, but that has been pushed back to a date still to be determined. 

If you are experiencing issues after reviewing the Reporting Registration FAQs, contact the Provider Support line at (866) 569-3522. Please note that HHS has not set a deadline for registration. 

The current open-ended registration window gives AHCA/NCAL time to address the registration glitches with HHS, as well as several other challenging registration features, such as having a unique username and email address for each TIN. If you have questions, suggestions, or recommendations for other changes to the registration guidance, please email AHCA/NCAL at covid19@ahca.org.​ 
EXECUTIVE ORDER ISSUED TO PROTECT WORKER SAFETY AND HEALTH
President Biden issued an Executive Order on protecting worker health and safety. This order includes direction for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue revised guidance on COVID-19, to consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 will need to be issued, to review enforcement efforts around COVID-19, and outreach to industries hit hardest by COVID-19. If OSHA determines temporary standards are needed, these will be issued by March 15, 2021. AHCA/NCAL is closely monitoring this executive order and how this will impact members. AHCA/NCAL will keep members updated as more information is available.​​
PREPARING FOR ONSITE VACCINATION CLINICS
As long term care facilities gear up for the second vaccine clinics through the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care Program, it’s important to provide accurate and timely information to your matched pharmacy (CVS/Walgreens/LTC pharmacy) prior to the onsite clinic. This includes: 
  • Accurately Estimating Vaccine Quantity: If you are participating in the Pharmacy Partnership Program, your matched pharmacy (CVS/Walgreens/LTC pharmacy) will call you a few days before the clinic to confirm the number of people to be vaccinated. It is very important providers accurately estimate the number of people to be vaccinated at this time to avoid any vaccine wastage. If there are any changes, be sure to communicate this to your matched pharmacy partner as soon as possible. 
  • Providing Accurate Insurance Information: The federal government has purchased all doses of the vaccine and is providing it free of charge to all Americans. The partner pharmacies (CVS/Walgreens/LTC pharmacy) are eligible to bill insurance for the administration fee for individuals that are insured, and HRSA for those that are uninsured. Partner pharmacies have reported challenges in collecting the insurance in​formation for both residents and staff. Please note that residents and staff do not have to pay out-of-pocket for the vaccine; however, it is necessary to provide their insurance information to the partner pharmacies so that insurance companies can be appropriately billed or the HRSA fund can be accessed​.  

For more information on preparing for vaccination clinics, you will find a Vaccine Preparation Checklist created by AHCA/NCAL. For other information and resources, please review AHCA/NCAL’s GetVaccinated website. 
REPORTING POSSIBLE ADVERSE EVENTS POST-VACCINATION TO THE CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring COVID-19 vaccine safety through several robust monitoring systems. Long term care facilities play a key role in supporting the CDC and FDA’s approach to safety monitoring by reporting possible side effects. There are two key reporting systems for long term care staff.
  • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety monitoring system that collects, and reviews reports of possible side effects (adverse events) that occur after vaccination. Guidance on what types of events should be reported to VAERS is available here.
  • V-Safe uses text messaging and web surveys to allow vaccine recipients to tell the CDC how they feel after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. ​

Click here for more information.
NHSN OFFERS WEEKLY COVID-19 VACCINATION DATA REPORTING
Long term care facilities can track weekly COVID-19 vaccination data for health care personnel and residents through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). The modules are located under the Long-Term Care Facilities section titled Surveillance for HCP & Resident COVID-19 Vaccination.  

Why is this information important to upload into NHSN?
Data helps to determine the effectiveness of the vaccines and the spread of the vaccination efforts. Information collected via the COVID-19 vaccination module on NHSN provides the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention critical information to help inform testing needs, reopening guidance, and visitation allowances among others. If you are not currently uploading your facility vaccination data to the Surveillance for HCP & Resident COVID-19 Vaccination module, you are encouraged to do so as this information guides future vaccination efforts.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
WHCA continues to post resources and information as it becomes available on our website. If you have questions or need additional information, please call the WHCA office at (800) 562-6170.