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January 18, 2022

In this Issue:

  1. CMS: All Resident-Facing Staff in Long-Term Care Facilities in 24 States Must Be Vaccinated by March 15
  2. Current Status of Visitation in Nursing Homes
  3. Webinar on the New Initial Certification Training Curriculum for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs
  4. Webinar from ACL and CMS on the HCBS Settings Regulation

CMS: All Resident-Facing Staff in Long-Term Care Facilities in 24 States Must Be Vaccinated by March 15

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold vaccine mandates for healthcare workers.  On Friday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a memo announcing its vaccination requirements and timelines for 24 states where the federal mandate can now move forward because of the Supreme Court's decision.  In the memo to state surveyors, CMS said that all resident-facing staff must have at least one vaccination within 30 days and must be fully vaccinated by March 15.  The rule applies to over 15,000 long-term care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid.

The memo applies to the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

CMS also said that the 25 states, Washington, DC, and territories where the mandate is already in effect are still required to meet CMS' initial enforcement timeline - workers must have at least one COVID-19 shot by January 27, 2022 and be fully vaccinated by February 28, 2022.

For more information, read the article in McKnight's.

Current Status of Visitation in Nursing Homes

In November 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated their nursing home visitation guidance.  Since then, many things have happened.  Read our information brief for the most up to date information on the current status of visitation in nursing homes.

  • The November 12, 2021 CMS visitation guidance emphasizes that visitation is now allowed at all times for all residents.  This includes indoor visitation.
  • In December 2021, the long-term care industry responded to the CMS guidance by asking that facilities be given the flexibility to place visitation restrictions on visitors in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On January 6, 2022, CMS updated their Frequently Asked Questions clarifying their guidance and continued to emphasize that visitation must be permitted at all times and that visitation is critical for residents.  They acknowledged that past limits of visitation led to physical and psychosocial declines.  But, the FAQs allow states to take additional measures to make visitation safer.  
    • Recently, several states have issued their own guidance with new policies on testing, masking, and vaccination.
  • On January 6, 2022, CMS hosted a webinar reiterating their committment to in-person visitation for all residents at all times.  They noted that staff COVID-19 cases are outpacing resident COVID-19 cases, leading them to conclude that transmission from COVID-19 is more likely coming from staff than visitors.

Consumer Voice continues to support full, unrestricted visitation with adherence to infection prevention protocols.  In response to the industry’s letter to CMS, Consumer Voice wrote to CMS in support of the December visitation guidance.  The letter pointed out that previous lockdowns of visitation did not work to stop the spread of COVID-19 in facilities, emphasized the devastating effect of these previous lockdowns on residents, and noted that being reunited with loved ones has alleviated the suffering and isolation caused by inadequate staffing for many residents.

Consumer Voice strongly encourages family members to follow all infection prevention protocols that facilities require while visiting, including proper masking, hand washing, and social distancing.  We encourage visitors to test before entering a facility.  If testing is required, tests must be made available at no cost for families, residents, and staff.  Federal and state governments must ensure availability of tests and hold facilities accountable for ensuring that infection prevention protocols are implemented and followed by all who enter the facility for ensuring that residents are receiving the necessary care and services.  Additionally, Consumer Voice strongly advises all visitors to get vaccinated and boosted before visiting.

For further details about the status of nursing home visitation, read our information update.

Webinar on the New Initial Certification Training Curriculum for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs

The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) has launched its new Initial Certification Training Curriculum for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs.  The Initial Certification Training Curriculum for Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs is a basic curriculum for initial certification training based on the requirements included in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Training Standards.  State Ombudsmen and those that provide training for paid or volunteer Ombudsman program representatives are invited to join NORC for a webinar Wednesday, January 26 at 3:00pm ET to learn about the new training materials which include: Curriculum Overview; Preparation Checklist and Training Tips; Trainer Guide; Trainee Manual; PowerPoints; and Supporting Materials (e.g., Glossary of Key Words, List of Training Video URLs).

Register Now

Webinar from ACL and CMS on the HCBS Settings Regulation

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are holding a webinar on Thursday, January 27th at 4:00pm ET, "Promising Practices Series: The Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Settings Regulation: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going."  This webinar will include an overview of the criteria for home and community-based settings and the heightened scrutiny process, as well as what is required of states to comply with the rule. It will also explore how ACL and CMS are collaborating to ensure successful implementation of the rule and how ACL is supporting and encouraging engagement as states work toward implementation and beyond.

Register Now

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