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April 21, 2020

In this Issue:

  1. CMS Instructs Nursing Homes to Report COVID-19 to CDC, Notify Residents and Families
  2. Members of Congress Send Letters to HHS and CMS Regarding COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities
    • House Democrats Urge HHS and CMS to Track and Publicly Report COVID-19 Cases in Long-Term Care Facilities
    • Senator Grassley Sends Letter Regarding Federal Response to COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities
  3. Take Action: More is Needed to Protect Residents and Staff from COVID-19
  4. Materials Available from Part I Webinar - COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents; Register for Part II on Friday
  5. Webinar Series - COVID-19 and Ombudsman Programs: Understanding How Trauma Impacts You, Residents and Your Advocacy
  6. West Virginia Governor Orders All Nursing Home Residents and Staff to Be Tested for COVID-19
  7. New Advocates Guide to Medicare Changes from Center for Medicare Advocacy
  8. Welcome Sam Brooks to Consumer Voice

CMS Instructs Nursing Homes to Report COVID-19, Notify Residents and Families
CMS issued its latest guidance to nursing homes, April 19, QSO-20-26-NH, that nursing homes will be required to report to CDC suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents or staff, residents with severe respiratory infection resulting in hospitalization or death, or 3 or more residents or staff with new-onset respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other. Through rulemaking, CMS is developing a new reporting tool along with direction on formatting and frequency for reporting the information.

The guidance notes that facilities will also be required to notify residents and their representatives about conditions inside the facility. At a minimum, nursing homes will be required to inform residents and their representatives within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or 3 or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms that occur within 72 hours. Updates must be provided weekly, or each subsequent time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified and/or whenever 3 or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurs within 72 hours.  Facilities also must include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations in the nursing home will be altered.  Failure to report could result in enforcement action against the nursing home. Read the latest guidance »

Members of Congress Send Letters to HHS and CMS Regarding COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities

House Democrats Urge HHS and CMS to Track and Publicly Report COVID-19 Cases in Long-Term Care Facilities

On April 15th, a group of House Democrats sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services urging them to track and publicly report COVID-19 in nursing homes. A recent NBC News investigation found more than 5,600 deaths linked to long-term care facilities in 29 states.  Yet, because testing remains limited and data has not been disclosed, many fear the death toll is much higher.  In the letter, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) wrote, "“[T]he Administration and the Congress lack essential information to adequately respond and protect older Americans and individuals with disabilities who rely on these facilities to survive and are particularly at risk for COVID-19." Consumer Voice provided input on the letter.  Read the letter »


Senator Grassley Sends Letter Regarding Federal Response to COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities

On April 17th, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma regarding several issues related to the outbreak of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country. Grassley expressed concerns about testing capacity, inconsistencies in data tracking, a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and transparency in federal spending.  Read the press release »

Take Action: More is Needed to Protect Residents and Staff from COVID-19
The Consumer Voice learns daily of more suffering and death in America’s nursing homes and assisted living and like many, we are deeply grieved.  At the same time, we are learning what is working in some long-term care facilities to protect the lives of residents and staff.

Consumer voices are needed NOW to draw attention to the problems and solutions that are desperately needed to protect the 2.4 million people who live in these facilities.

Advocacy action is needed at every level. Act Now! Tell the White House, Congress, State Legislators, Governors, and CMS that individuals living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should not be forgotten. Learn more »

Materials Available from Part I Webinar - COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents;
Register for Part II on Friday

Materials are available from last Friday's webinar - COVID-19: Advocating for Nursing Home Residents - Part I - with Center for Medicare Advocacy, Long Term Care Community Coalition and Justice in Aging.  Part I of the two-part series provided 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.  View materials »

Join us this Friday, April 24th at 2:00pm ET for Part II where we will continue to look at issues affecting residents and include examples of State-level advocacy that are currently underway to influence state action and protect residents. Register »

Webinar Series - COVID-19 and Ombudsman Programs: Understanding How Trauma Impacts You, Residents and Your Advocacy
In partnership with the Colorado Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, Consumer Voice and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) are offering a four-part webinar series regarding the impact of trauma due to the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care residents and Ombudsman programs. The webinar series will highlight important themes related to trauma-informed care, person-centered care, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. The series will include case studies, self-reflection activities and exercises, and materials for attendees.

The first webinar on Wednesday, April 29, 3 – 4:15 ET, will address person-centered, trauma-informed care with presenter Dr. Sheri Gibson, Ph.D, instructor and clinical supervisor for the Psychology Department at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) and faculty affiliate with the UCCS Gerontology Center.

Contact ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org with comments or questions about this series.  

Each webinar will start at 3:00 pm ET. When you register for the first webinar, you are registered for the entire series. Webinar Dates: Wednesday, April 29; Wednesday, May 20; Wednesday, June 17; and Wednesday, July 29th. Register »

West Virginia Governor Orders All Nursing Home Residents and Staff to Be Tested for COVID-19
The Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, has issued an Executive Order that requires all nursing home residents and staff in the state to be tested, or retested, for COVID-19.  Read the Executive Order »
New Advocates Guide to Medicare Changes from Center for Medicare Advocacy
The Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA) has created a new advocates guide - "COVID-19 An Advocates Guide to Medicare Changes."  The COVID-19 crisis has led to many changes in the Medicare program.  While many of the changes affect health care providers, including payment and waivers of certain requirements, CMA's Advocates Guide focuses on Medicare COVID changes that relate to beneficiaries and their access to covered care.  Read the guide »

Welcome Sam Brooks to Consumer Voice
Consumer Voice welcomes Sam Brooks as Program Manager.  Sam is an attorney formerly with the Aging and Disabilities Unit at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. During that time, he became an expert on nursing homes in Pennsylvania and nursing home regulations, and spearheaded a report on the state's oversight of nursing homes that led to statewide reforms.  Sam has a passion for justice and years of advocating on behalf of nursing home residents.  Sam is a great addition to our program and policy team.   Please join us in welcoming Sam.

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