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April 14, 2020

In this Issue:

  1. CMS Issues Supplemental Information for Transfer/Discharge
  2. Consumer Voice Joint Webinars - COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents
  3. Legislation Introduced That Would Expand Telehealth and Virtual Services in Nursing Facilities
  4. Federal Court Upholds CMS Pre-Dispute Arbitration Rule
  5. Consumer Voice Seeking Summer Interns
CMS Issues Supplemental Information for Transfer/Discharge
On April 13, 2020, CMS issued supplemental information for transferring and discharging residents between facilities based on their COVID-19 status. CMS provided this information in response to questions regarding its April 2, 2020 memo that included guidance on separating residents.
This latest memo discusses three scenarios:
  1. If two or more certified LTC facilities transfer or discharge residents between themselves in order to group residents by their COVID-19 status, they can do so under the Blanket Transfer Waiver (see COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers), without any approval from their State Survey Agency.
  2. If a certified LTC facility transfers or discharges residents to a non-certified location for cohorting purposes, the State Survey Agency must approve the location. In this case, the residents must be cared for by the LTC facility staff.  
  3. If COVID-19 positive residents are transferred to a Federal or State run facility staffed with Federal or State personnel, no waiver is necessary as long as the transfer is not inconsistent with the state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan or as directed by the local or state health department.
Read the memo »

Consumer Voice Joint Webinars - COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents
As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, the number of outbreaks in nursing homes is increasing. CMS has issued unprecedented guidance, waivers, and restrictions on resident protections; and has expanded coverage and flexibility through Medicare and Medicaid. At the same time, State and local governments have also issued orders and taken sometimes controversial actions to try to stem the spread of this virus. The impact on long-term care residents has been tremendous.

Join the Consumer Voice, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Long Term Care Community Coalition, and Justice in Aging for a two-part examination of some of the major issues impacting nursing home residents right now at the national and state levels. Part I, on Friday, April 17th at 2:00pm ET, will include an overview and discussion about the changing landscape of federal actions, as well as advocacy that our collective organizations have been engaged in with CMS and Congress. Part II, on Friday, April 24th at 2:00pm ET, will continue the look at issues affecting residents and include example of State-level advocacy that are currently underway to influence state action and protect residents. Register for one or both webinars »

Legislation Introduced That Would Expand Telehealth and Virtual Services in Nursing Facilities
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Representative Peter King (R-NY) have introduced the bipartisan Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors (ACCESS) Act. This legislation would help ensure that federal funding is available to expand telehealth and virtual services at nursing facilities so individuals can stay connected to their health care providers and communities when in-person visits are limited during the pandemic. The ACCESS Act would:

  • Authorize an emergency supplemental appropriation of $50 million for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Telehealth Resource Center to assist nursing facilities receiving funding through Medicare or Medicaid in expanding their use of telehealth services;
  • Require the Secretary of HHS to share recommendations on additional ways to improve access to telehealth services in nursing facilities and temporarily designated nursing facilities during the pandemic; and
  • Establish a grant program authorizing HHS to award nursing facilities grants to nursing facilities to enable residents to participate in “virtual visits” with loved ones while the health risk of in-person visits remains high during the pandemic.

Consumer Voice, along with AARP, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging and the Long Term Care Community Coalition, endorsed this legislation. Learn more in Rep. Schakowsky's press release »

Federal Court Upholds CMS Pre-Dispute Arbitration Rule
A federal court in Arkansas ruled that long-term care facilities must comply with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) revised final rule regarding pre-dispute arbitration agreements as a condition of receiving Medicare and Medicaid payments.  The rule mandates that an arbitration agreement cannot be a condition for admission to the facility; requires the facility to ensure the resident or his or her representative understands the agreement; and provides the right to rescind an agreement within 30 days.  In the case, Northport Health Services of Arkansas, LLC asserted that the rule exceeded CMS’s authority under Medicare and Medicaid statutes and violated the Federal Arbitration Act.  The court found that the rule is a valid exercise of CMS’ authority and does not conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act.  This ruling is a win for consumer protections. Read more »

Consumer Voice Seeking Summer Interns
Consumer Voice is seeking interns for the Summer semester.  Applications are open for a Graduate/Law Student Public Policy Interns.  Consumer Voice internships are an excellent opportunity to learn about long-term care and advocacy while building your portfolio.  Application deadline is May 1st. Learn how to apply »

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