Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

May 6, 2021

Long-Term Care COVID-19 Cases Tick Up Slightly. For the first time since December, the Health Department (ODH) long-term care COVID-19 dashboard showed more cases in facilities this week than last. The increase was slight but perceptible. Current cases among facility residents went up from 189 to 200, while staff cases rose by 9 to 309. The 509 total cases are still lower than any other week save last week. It is not clear whether the increase is related to variants or to another factor.

EIDC Notices Today. In case you missed them, ODH sent out three Enhanced Information Dissemination and Collection system (EIDC) notices today. The notices mainly forwarded attached documents.

  • COVID-19 testing guidance for SNFs, which restates key provisions of the latest ODH testing order and refers to the updated testing schedule. "To support a smooth transition, facilities participating in the state-supported testing program are encouraged to view the upcoming testing schedule at https://testingschedule.age.ohio.gov and prepare to receive supplies beginning this week." The guidance also briefly discusses the maintenance vaccination program.

  • COVID-19 testing guidance for residential care facilities (RCFs), which is the same as the SNF guidance except for the areas of difference between the RCF and SNF orders.

  • A flyer on the SNF/RCF maintenance vaccination program with various data points, including pegging the staff vaccination rate at 52% and the resident rate at 90%. Two key takeaways are that "hundreds" of clinics have been held for fewer than 10 people and that facilities unhappy with their current clinic arrangements can switch.

  • A flyer (previously circulated) on the Regional Rapid Response Assistance Program (R3AP).

  • A notice from Abbott extending for a second time expiration dates on BinaxNOW cards (see lot numbers listed in the notice).

Official Statement on Appendix K Payment. We received the following statement from the Department of Medicaid for members on the Appendix K payment for certain Medicaid waiver services.

The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) and the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) have received federal approval to make COVID relief payments through a CMS Appendix K approval to eligible Ohio Home Care, PASSPORT, and MyCare (HCBS) providers. The amount of each eligible provider’s payment will be calculated as a percentage of the total amount of paid claims for waiver nursing, personal care, and home care attendant for dates of service from 8/1/2020 through 10/31/2020. In addition, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, under the same authority, received federal approval and has made COVID relief payments for the same dates and similar community-based services. These are one-time payments and no other actions are required by the provider to receive payment. Eligible providers can expect payment between May 17 and the end of the month. Please send inquiries to medicaid@medicaid.ohio.gov.

Changes to NHSN Reporting Modules. AHCA/NCAL discusses in a blog post upcoming changes to National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 reporting modules for long-term care facilities. These changes are intended to update and to simplify the modules. The blog post lists a number of webinar opportunities, beginning Tuesday, May 11, to learn about the changes.

CMS Vaccine Hesitancy Social Media Video. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)-Chicago provided a YouTube video to help with vaccine hesitancy. We urge you to use it with staff. As noted in the following note from CMS, it uses peer-to-peer messaging.

As a part of CMS’ ongoing COVID response efforts to support the long term care community, we debuted our first social media videos highlighting staff, also referred to as Community Champions, who moved from being initially uncertain about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to accepting the vaccine -- and encouraging their peers to do the same.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, staff in nursing homes have been providing ongoing care to our nation’s most vulnerable. This social media campaign is intended to help increase vaccine acceptance amongst long-term care staff. Please like and share our Community Champions video:  https://youtu.be/k0WbAhveyDY We can do this!

Questions about the COVID 19 vaccines? Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/

CMS Increases Medicare Payment for COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Infusions. CMS announced earlier this evening that they are increasing Medicare Part B payments for monoclonal antibody infusions. As stated in the notice:

Effective today, the national average payment rate will increase from $310 to $450 for most health care settings. In support of providers’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, CMS will also establish a higher national payment rate of $750 when monoclonal antibodies are administered in the beneficiary’s home, including the beneficiary’s permanent residence or temporary lodging (e.g., hotel/motel, cruise ship, hostel, or homeless shelter).

IRS Issues Third Round of EIPs (from AHCA/NCAL). Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the third round of Economic Income Payments (EIP). Most Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income recipients should have received their EIPs by now. If a person is missing their first or second EIP, they need to file a 2020 tax return with the IRS and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit as soon as possible. For more information, please visit the Social Security Administration's (SSA) press page .

AHCA/NCAL also put together a webinar recording on EIPs from the IRS and important facts for skilled nursing facilities, ICFs/IID, and assisted living centers to know the use of them. A variety of resources from the SSA and the National Center on Elder Law and Rights are available at the end of the webinar for additional information. If you have any questions regarding EIPs, please email COVID19@ahca.org .