Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

March 11, 2021

State Underscores CMS Visitation Requirements, Sets Webinars. This morning, the state circulated via the Enhanced Information Dissemination and Collection system (EIDC) a letter signed by the Directors of Health and Aging outlining the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services's (CMS's) revisions to Quality, Safety, and Oversight letter (QSO) 20-39-NH on SNF visitation. The letter also makes reference to one of three webinars the state is holding next week for different provider groups. They are:

  • Assisted living: Next Tuesday, March 16, from 11:00 a.m. to noon. See flyer here and register here.
  • Skilled nursing: Next Tuesday, March 16, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. See flyer here and register here.
  • Adult day services for seniors: Next Wednesday, March 17, from 11:00 a.m. to noon. See flyer here and register here.

On a related note, CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a brief update this afternoon on the visitation changes and CDC's new post-vaccination guidance for health care workers. There was no noteworthy new information, although CMS's Evan Shulman confirmed that the "at any time" language in the QSO does mean visitation can be at any time, although he also pointed to other provisions about scheduling visits and ensuring infection control protocols can be met.

Governor's Comments. Governor Mike DeWine discussed the CMS visitation directive in his press conference today, along with the state's vaccine maintenance program for SNFs and assisted living communities. His comments on the latter topic were summarized in the subsequent news release as follows:

Additionally, Governor DeWine highlighted the progress being made by Ohio’s Vaccine Maintenance Program for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Ohio’s Vaccine Maintenance Program ensures new nursing home residents and employees, and established residents and employees who previously decided not to receive a vaccine, can still choose to receive one. Governor DeWine emphasized the importance of every nursing home resident receiving a vaccine.

OHCA previously shared with Director of Aging Ursel McElroy that while we applaud the state for this initiative, most members still are unsure where they stand with it. Meanwhile, the Health Department circulated the latest edition of their Ohio Vaccine Preparedness Office Weekly Update.

President Signs Federal Stimulus Legislation. This afternoon, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. While we covered other sections of the bill yesterday, today we would like to point out some items in the bill that assist low and moderate-income households. These items should benefit many long-term services and supports workers. OHCA encourages you to share these opportunities with your employees. Highlights of these provisions include:

  • Relief checks for low and middle-income households. Individuals with adjusted gross incomes less than $75,000 and married couples with adjusted gross incomes less than $150,000 will be eligible to receive $1,400 per person and per qualifying dependent. For example, an unmarried member of your staff with two children earning an annual wage of $25,000 would receive $4,200.

  • Expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The American Rescue Plan increases the maximum allowable credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6), expands eligibility criteria by including 17-year-olds, and converts the credit from deductible to refundable. The CTC increases are subject to the same income eligibility criteria as the relief checks noted above. The Internal Revenue Service will estimate taxpayers’ CTCs and will make monthly payments to eligible individuals from July through December 2021. That same unmarried employee with two children earning $25,000 would receive an additional $6,000 (or up to $7,200 if both children are under 6), paid out in $500 monthly installments from July–December ($600/month if under age 6) with the remaining credit available on their 2021 taxes.

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The legislation makes two notable changes to the EITC program.  First, it creates special rules for individuals with no children that increase the income cap to $21,000 and that raise the amount of the EITC. Second, it decreases the minimum age for qualification to 19, with a few exceptions, and eliminates the maximum age.

The two tax-related items will only be effective for the 2021 tax year, unless Congress passes future legislation to extend these tax changes.