Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

April 15, 2021

Sequestration Relief Finalized. Having returned from a break, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation to reinstate the suspension of the 2% Medicare sequester until December 31, 2021. The previous suspension terminated on March 31, 2021, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instructed the Medicare Administrative Contractors to hold claims pending Congressional action. President Joe Biden signed the measure yesterday, so it is now in effect. This relief is worth billions of dollars to Medicare providers across the country.

Long-Term Care COVID-19  Cases Hit New Low. According to the Department of Health's COVID-19 dashboard for long-term care, there are only 610 current cases in Ohio facilities. This number is well below even the June 2020 tallies. It also marks the first time staff cases (319) outnumbered resident cases (291), reflecting the higher level of vaccination among residents. The state recognized only 30 COVID-19-related deaths in long-term care, a new low, although the state's change in how it records deaths makes comparisons difficult.

On the other hand, cases in Ohio's general population continue to rise, to some degree driven by the spread of variants and fueled by the fact that 73.6% of the public has not even started vaccination. Today's 21-day case average is nearly 2,000, with higher than average daily totals of cases, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit admissions. On today's refresh of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, Franklin County returned to purple, which it carried several months ago, while all other major metropolitan counties are red. While purple or red status doesn't trigger any requirements, it is an indicator of viral resurgence in the state.

OBM Monitoring of CRF Recipients. In a newsletter released today, the Office of Budget and Management (OBM) explained that it is conducting monitoring visits to recipients of Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) payments. Many health care and home and community-based services providers received CRF grants last summer. While OBM announced late last year that they will not require routine reporting by all grant recipients, today's newsletter article indicates that OBM may review various documents during a monitoring visit (scroll down to the article, "Coronavirus Relief Fund Monitoring"). OBM states that the Department of Treasury requires state agencies administering CRF grants to monitor grantees. OBM also points out that recipients must maintain records relating to the funds for 5 years after receiving them. See also the separate article on the single audit requirement for recipients who spend more than $750,000 of grant funds.

CMS/CDC SNF Stakeholder Call. CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will hold another national COVID-19 stakeholder call for SNFs at 4:00 p.m. next Wednesday, April 21. Register in advance at this link. Topics covered on the call will include vaccine updates, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care, 1135 blanket waivers, and Community Champions.

HRSA Contact for PRF Issues (from AHCA/NCAL). As you know from previous correspondence, AHCA/NCAL sent a survey to members on outstanding provider relief fund (PRF) issues. We compiled the valid issues and recently sent that list to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). That being said, due to privacy concerns – HRSA has requested that all providers send in their issues directly as well to this email: ProviderReliefContact@hrsa.gov. AHCA’s Senior Director of NFP & Constituent Services, Dana Ritchie, will be emailing those who completed the survey and had valid issues with the HRSA contact information so they know to reach out directly. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Dana at dritchie@ahca.org.