COVID-19 UPDATE #81
September 21, 2020
NOW AVAILABLE: PAYMENT RESOURCE FOR COVID-19 TESTING IN SKILLED NURSING
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last week released information to help states, nursing facilities, and other providers better understand the sources of Medicare and Medicaid coverage and payment for COVID-19 testing. Among the resources is the Coverage and Payment for COVID-19 Testing in Nursing Facilities flow chart, which details testing coverage for nursing facility residents. AHCA/NCAL has developed a summary of this resource.
ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES CAN BECOME A CLIA-CERTIFIED LABORATORY TO CONDUCT ABBOTT COVID-19 TESTS
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is sending 540,000 COVID-19 test kits made by Abbott to assisted living communities this week. To receive a kit from HHS, a community, by law, ​must have a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver to perform testing, Those buildings will receive test kits through December, at which time it has been reported that you will need to pay for additional test kits privately.

Washington State has a separate and distinct CLIA waiver application called a Certificate of Waiver Medical Test Site (MTS) that is managed by the Department of Health. When you obtain this licensure, your facility is exempt from the CLIA requirement. Your MTS license will contain both your MTS license number and your CLIA number.

As a licensed MTS, your facility must comply with WAC 246-338; some requirements in this section include policies and procedures, quality control measures, and recordkeeping.

Once the MTS/CLIA number has been assigned, the provider is considered to have a CLIA certified waived laboratory and can begin testing if applicable CLIA requirements have been met (e.g., establishing performance specifications). Please note that each waived test conducted, regardless of negative or positive result, must then be reported to the Department of Health as part of your MTS/CLIA license.

There is currently no requirement to use the Abbott test kits, nor is there a current state mandate to routinely test residents and/or staff in assisted living communities.

If an assisted living community is not able or willing to secure a MTS/CLIA waiver, you might consider partnering with a retail pharmacy for the Abbott testing or check with a commercial pharmacy in your area. You may also continue using a local laboratory for PCR testing purposes, as these tests are more sensitive and have a higher accuracy rating.

Retail Pharmacy Contacts Click on any name below to initiate an email.

CVS Health 

Walmart

Walgreens

CPSEN

Health Mart Pharmacy

Good Neighbor Pharmacy

Our understanding is that HHS will ship test kits to all ALs with CLIA Certificates of Waiver this week to be used for residents and staff. Replenishment of kits will be sent weekly thereafter with enough kits based on size and varying based on the CMS ratings for COVID-19 test positivity in your county (red, yellow or green). HHS has also provided a training portal here.

For additional questions on the HHS shipment of Abbot Testing Kits you can contact: 
  • Abbott BinaxNOW technical assistance via email
  • Abbot BinaxNOW shipment assistance via email
  • CDC: online or via telephone at (800) 232-4636
DEAR PROVIDER LETTER DETAILS COVID-19 PROCLAMATIONS EXTENDED THROUGH OCTOBER 1, 2020
The Dear Provider letter dated September 16, 2020, extends several proclamations related to assisted living, skilled nursing, and other long term care providers. The letter details the extensions, which include waivers on worker training standards and the 120-day standard for nursing assistant certification:
  • 20-32.7 DOH Healthcare Worker Licensing
  • 20-44.6 SNF Transfer or Discharge/Cohorting Residents
  • 20-65.1 Long Term Care – Workers, Facilities, and Resources (consolidates and extends these earlier proclamations.)
  • 20-66.1 Long Term Care – Operations and Visitation – this proclamation also extends several earlier proclamations.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please email Lauri St. Ours or call her at (800) 562-6170, extension 104.
CMS TO UPDATE COUNTY DATA FOR SKILLED NURSING FACILITY COVID-19 TESTING WEEKLY AND ALLOW USE OF STATE OR COUNTY DATA IN UPDATED METHODOLOGY
CMS has updated the Excel file that flags COVID-19 positive test rates in counties. CMS modified the method for classifying a county as green, yellow, or red and expanded the measure to cover results over a 14-day period in each county instead of seven days. CMS will also be posting data weekly and will allow facilities to use test positivity data released by their state or county if the data is more recent than the CMS data. Read more.
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.