Coronavirus Response Newsletter

This post has been archived and contains information that may be out of date.

Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requirements Announced
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued detailed reporting requirements for recipients of more than $10,000 in Provider Relief Funds for health care-related expenses or lost revenues attributable to COVID-19. The reporting requirements apply to all distributions except nursing home infection control, rural health clinic testing, and payments under the Health Resources and Services Administration COVID-19 Uninsured Program. Notably, while the department announced in Aug.14 guidance that reporting would begin Oct. 1, it now states the reporting system will not be available until early 2021.

House Proposes Loan Extension, Reduced Interest Rate for Medicare Advanced Payments
Included in the House of Representatives’ proposal, released this week, to fund the federal government through Dec. 11 is a CHA-supported provision to modify the Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payment Programs implemented during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These proposed modifications include revising the original repayment period for providers from 12 to 29 months from the date of the first payment and reducing the interest rate from 10.25% to 4%. Details about the proposed modifications are available here.

Congress must act to continue funding for the federal government to avoid a shutdown before Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. The House is expected to vote on the proposal, known as a continuing resolution, this week. The timing and content of a Senate proposal are less clear.

Advoque Safeguard N95 Respirators Recalled
Advoque Safeguard has issued a recall of its N95 particulate filtering respirator, model number ADV001, effective Sept. 10. Advoque masks with National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health approval number TC-84-A-PH02, including masks distributed prior to Sept. 10, may no longer be distributed and used as an N95-level respirator. Facilities that have masks with the above-referenced number should immediately stop using and distributing them. Additional details are available in the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) All Facilities Letter (AFL) 20-71.

CMS Updates Skilled-Nursing Facility Visitation Guidance
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued updated guidance for visitation in skilled-nursing facilities during the pandemic. The revised guidance notes that previous restrictions, which focused on protecting residents from COVID-19 by limiting visitation, have taken a physical and emotional toll on residents. It provides reasonable ways that facilities can safely accommodate in-person visitation to address the psychosocial needs of their residents.

While CMS notes that skilled-nursing facilities may continue to restrict visitation (except virtual visits) based on the county’s positivity rate, the facility’s COVID-19 status, or other factors, they may not restrict visitation without a reasonable clinical or safety cause. The new guidance, which is effective immediately, also provides that communal activities and dining can occur with alterations to adhere to guidelines to prevent transmission. Additionally, CMS notes that facilities may apply to use civil money penalties funds to purchase tents for outdoor visitation or dividers to create physical barriers and reduce risk of transmission during in-person visits.

CDPH Issues Guidance for Skilled-Nursing Facilities, Home Health Agencies
CDPH has issued several AFLs for post-acute care providers, including:

  • AFL 20-72, which waives certain requirements for home health agencies during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes provisions related to licensing, staffing and services, and supervision.
  • AFL 20-73, which provides guidance to skilled-nursing facilities to support residents’ ability to express their treatment wishes through proactive advance care planning. The AFL includes recommendations for all residents, including those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • AFL 20-74, which provides recommendations for use of personal protective equipment, cohorting, and staffing for skilled-nursing facility residents. The AFL includes a chart with guidance for each category of COVID-19 status, including COVID-19-positive residents, symptomatic residents awaiting test results, exposed and non-exposed residents, and new admissions.

Board of Pharmacy Issues Waiver Update
The California Board of Pharmacy has not extended its waiver of the requirement for a consulting pharmacist to make quarterly visits to clinics, which will expire Sept. 22. The Board has extended the following waivers:

  • Remote Processing – Effective through Oct. 31
  • Signature Requirement for Receipt of Delivery of Drugs – Effective through Dec. 21
  • Prescriber Dispensing Beta-Agonist Inhalation Product to Emergency Room Patient – Effective through Dec. 21
  • Requirements Related to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Effective through Dec. 21
  • Duty to Consult – Effective through Dec. 28
  • Use of PPE in Certain Compounding Aseptic Isolators or Compounding Aseptic Containment Isolators – Effective through Dec. 28

Details about all Board of Pharmacy waivers are available here.

Federal Task Force Issues Report on COVID-19 and Skilled-Nursing Facilities

The Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes was established April 30 to develop recommendations to protect nursing home residents. The Commission has issued its final report, which focuses on testing, PPE, and visitation. It includes 27 primary recommendations for CMS with a specific emphasis on a national testing strategy, providing operators with access to at least three months’ worth of PPE, continuing to facilitate proper cohorting of COVID-19 residents, and expanding visitation access to nursing facilities.

Next CDPH Call for Health Care Facilities: Sept. 29, 8-9 a.m. (PT)
Dial: (844) 721-7239
Passcode: 7993227

Summary of Sept. 22 CDPH Call
CDPH has provided a summary of its most recent weekly call with health care facilities.