May 2, 2023
In this Issue:
- Biden Administration Ending COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Nursing Home Workers
- COVID-Related Regulatory Waivers to End
- Consumer Voice Sends Letter to CMS Regarding Inaccuracies on Care Compare
- May is Older Americans Month
- Present During a Session at the 2023 Consumer Voice Conference
Biden Administration Ending COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Nursing Home Workers
On May 1, 2023, the Biden Administration announced it would be ending the federal requirement that nursing home workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 on May 11, 2023, the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE).
COVID-19 vaccinations have proven to be the most effective protection for nursing home residents. For the week ending December 13, 2020, there were 34,101 COVID-19 cases reported in nursing homes, along with 6,077 resident deaths. For workers, those numbers were 29,086 cases and 42 deaths. A month later, for the week ending February 21, 2021, the number of COVID-19 cases for residents had dropped to 2,316 resident cases and 879 resident deaths. For workers, the numbers were 3,018 cases and 25 deaths. These precipitous declines in cases and deaths correspond with the introduction of COVID-19 vaccinations for both residents and workers. Since then, COVID-19 vaccinations have likely saved the lives of tens of thousands of nursing home residents.
COVID-19 vaccines have been the most effective tool in protecting residents from contracting COVID-19 and dying. Consumer Voice is concerned that lifting the requirement that staff be vaccinated will put both residents and staff at increased risk for spreading and contracting the virus and experiencing severe illness or even death. Further, it sends the wrong message to both residents and workers that vaccination is not important and could reduce the rates of vaccination in both residents and staff.
COVID-Related Regulatory Waivers to End
CMS released new guidance regarding regulatory waivers due to expire on May 11, 2023, the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE). CMS had issued numerous waivers at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which were, according to CMS, designed to provide nursing homes “flexibilities” in treating residents during the pandemic. While many of these waivers have been rescinded, several remain in effect, but will now terminate at the end of the PHE. The terminating waivers include:
- Nursing homes will no longer be able to employ untrained workers: CMS had issued a waiver allowing nursing homes to employ workers as CNAs, who had not met the regulatory training and certification requirements. While this waiver was due to end last year, CMS continued to allow many states to employ untrained workers. When the PHE ends, all workers will need to meet the training and certification requirements within four months.
- Three-day hospital stays prior to admission to a nursing home for Medicare residents: CMS had waived the requirement that a Medicare recipient have a three-day hospital stay prior to admission to a nursing home. The three-day requirement will be reinstated at the end of the PHE.
- Resident Grouping, Cohorting, and Transfer and Discharge: CMS had waived certain resident protections to allow facilities to group residents based on COVID-19 status and to transfer/discharge residents without notice to cohort them with other residents with similar COVID-19 status. All of these waivers will be lifted, and facilities will no longer be able to group or transfer residents, without their consent, based on COVID-19 status. The notice requirement prior to discharge or transfer is reinstated, as well.
Importantly, the result of most of the waivers expiring will reinstate important protections for nursing home residents.
Consumer Voice Sends Letter to CMS Regarding Inaccuracies on Care Compare
Consumer Voice sent a letter to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), regarding the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's (OIG) report which found widespread inaccuracies in the information reported to the public on Care Compare. Nearly 20 years ago, the Inspector General identified many of these same inaccuracies in a report on Nursing Home Compare, Care Compare’s predecessor website. Although CMS promised two decades ago to correct the problems that led to the inaccuracies (and to require state agencies to verify that the database includes the most recent inspections), the same problems remain today, based on the same underlying causes.
More troubling still, CMS now dismisses OIG’s detailed concerns about how Care Compare fails to identify health, life safety code, and emergency preparedness deficiencies for two-thirds of the nursing facilities in the country. CMS refuses to commit to correcting the problems that make Care Compare understate deficiencies so significantly and extensively. In our letter, we urge CMS to take the findings of the OIG report seriously, to adopt all of the report’s recommendations, and to undertake a system-wide review to determine how these serious errors were made.
Read our letter.
May is Older Americans Month
Every May, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month (OAM). The 2023 theme is Aging Unbound, which offers an opportunity to explore diverse aging experiences and discuss how communities can combat stereotypes. The theme emphasizes flexible thinking about aging – and how we all benefit when older adults remain engaged, independent, and included. Use #OlderAmericansMonth and #AgingUnbound all month long on social media and follow along as ACL and other organizations share resources and honor the contributions of older Americans.
Present During a Session at the 2023 Consumer Voice Conference
Join us for the 2023 Consumer Voice Conference October 31-November 1, 2023 at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor.
Consumer Voice's Annual Conference educates and empowers long-term care consumers and consumer advocates. The conference covers long-term care issues, including current trends, best practices, advocacy opportunities, and new research. Attendees have the opportunity to learn, network, and exchange ideas with advocates from all over the country.
Call for Proposals
We are looking for proposals that create an engaging, informative conference agenda that provides resources, tools, opportunities for discussion, and strategies our attendees can incorporate in their life and/or advocacy.
Two easy steps to submit a proposal:
- Review the Call for Proposals and Presenter Requirements.
- Submit your proposal via Survey Monkey. NOTE: You will not be able to save incomplete submissions in SurveyMonkey, so you may want to review and print or save the PDF version of the proposal questions so you can plan your responses prior to starting the submission.
Proposals are due by June 2, 2023. Late or incomplete proposals will not be considered.