Coronavirus

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are working nationally with the federal government​​​ to ensure nursing hom​​es, assisted living communities, and intermediate care facilities for indiv​​iduals with intellectual disabilities receive necessary supplies and guidance to prevent the spread ​of this disease.

Visit this website regularly for the latest information that AHCA/NCAL has to share with long term care providers about COVID-19. 


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How You Can Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

 Providers

Please note that skilled nursing providers should consult the guidance put forth by CMS and the CDC, and assisted living communities can consult AHCA/NCAL's guidance​. Providers should also check their local and state health departments for updates and potentially stricter guidance, but these are general, national prevention and containment tips: 

 
Infection Control: Maintain i​nfection control policies and procedures, updated where needed and increase transmission-based precautions.
 
Staff: Remind about hand hygiene and proper use of PPE. Tell them to stay home if they're sick. Screen all personnel coming into the building.
 
Limit Interactions: Restrict all non-essential visitors and group activities. Implement social distancing within the facility.
 
PPE: Preserve your current supply if you're running low. Ask for help from local and state officials and document requests.
 
Communicate: Report suspected or confirmed cases to authorities. Keep residents, families and staff informed about your developing situation. Prepare for media inquiries.
 
Engagement: Keep residents connected with loved ones remotely and stimulated with meaningful activities adapted for this situation.


If a staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19: Have them go home immediately. 

If a resident shows symptoms of ​COVID-19​: Implement droplet precaution, and contact the local health department. ​

 Families

Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious threat to older adults (especially 80 years old and older) and those with underlying health conditions. This is why the federal government and many state governments are restricting visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for end-of-life visits. We understand this is difficult, but the safety and wellbeing of your loved one is our top priority.  

Here’s how you can continue to stay in touch with them, and how you can help: 

  • Communicate with your loved ones through alternative ways for the time being, whether by phone, video, social media, or other methods. Ask the facility about ways they can help with this.  
  • Make sure your loved one’s facility has your emergency contact information. The facility may need to communicate with you about any developments regarding your loved one or about the facility as a whole.  
  • If you must come to the facility, such as a loved one is near end-of-life, coordinate with the staff ahead of time.  
    • They may ask you some questions before or when your arrive. This is to make sure you do not pose as a potential risk to residents and staff.  
    • If you are asked to not enter the building, please understand this is for the safety of your loved one and everyone else in the building. Nursing homes and assisted living communities are following direction from the government to prevent the spread of this virus.  
    • ​If you are permitted in, please wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately upon entering and throughout your visit. Avoid touching your loved ones or other individuals in the building. Again, we know this is difficult, but the virus is very contagious and social distancing is important at this time. ​
  • ​Warn your loved ones about potential scammers during this crisis and encourage them to be cautious.​

 Residents

Coronavirus (COVID-19) poses a serious threat to older adults (especially 80 years old and older) and those with underlying health conditions. This is why the federal government and many state governments are restricting visitors to nursing homes and assisted living communities. We understand this is a difficult and stressful time. Those who work in long term care facilities are focused on your safety and wellbeing.  

Here’s how you can continue to stay in touch with your loved ones, and how you can help: 

  • Ask the facility about other ways you can communicate with your loved ones, whether by phone, video or social media.  
  • Follow everyday preventive actions such as: 
    • ​Washing your hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers 
    • Covering your cough and sneezes ​
  • ​Ask other individuals (including staff) to avoid touching you with handshakes, hugs or kisses. Ask them to wash their hands. Do not be shy! It’s okay to remind people.
  • Watch out for potential scammers​ during this crisis. 
  • If you begin to experience difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell​, tell a staff member immediately.​

 Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program

​Starting ​on Monday, Oct​ober 19, long term care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living communities, ICF/IIDs and other congregate settings for older adults) will have two weeks to register with the CDC on how they want to receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.​​ 

Learn more:

NURSING HOMES​​

ASSISTED LIVING & OTHER CONGREGATE SETTINGS

REGISTER HERE


 

 

Webinar Now Available: Overview of SNF 3-Day Stay and Benefit Period Waivershttps://publish.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/Webinar-Now-Available-Overview-of-SNF-3-Day-Stay-and-Benefit-Period-Waivers.aspxWebinar Now Available: Overview of SNF 3-Day Stay and Benefit Period Waivers10/26/2020 4:00:00 AM<p></p><div>In response to the declaration of the COVID-19 national public health emergency (PHE), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a nationwide blanket waiver of the 3-Day Prior Hospitalization and 60-day break in Benefit Period requirements to qualify for SNF Part A benefits effective March 1, 2020. When a blanket waiver is issued, providers don't have to apply for an individual waiver for the duration of the PHE. The PHE was recently renewed and will apply till at least January 20, 2021.  </div><div><br></div><div>This AHCA/NCAL <a href="https://educate.ahcancal.org/products/covid-19-overview-of-snf-3-day-stay-and-benefit-period-waivers" target="_blank">webinar</a> and accompanying <a href="/Survey-Regulatory-Legal/Emergency-Preparedness/Documents/COVID19/3-Day%20Waiver%20FAQ.pdf" target="_blank">fact sheet</a> provide a brief overview of the background of these important waivers, and also provides specific details about when and how it would be appropriate for SNFs to apply the waivers to assure that Medicare beneficiaries are able to access skilled SNF Part A benefits in a manner that also minimizes risks for unnecessary exposure or transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Examples of how the 3-Day Stay and Benefit Period waivers can or cannot apply in common situations are be discussed. Additionally, details related to documentation, MDS assessment scheduling, and claims coding and sequencing requirements specific to these waivers are reviewed.    </div><div><br></div><div>While providing a general overview of these waivers, the target audience for this webinar includes SNF personnel responsible for making coverage eligibility decisions, as well as MDS scheduling personnel and billing office personnel responsible for assuring compliance with the modified requirements necessary for claims applying these waivers to be properly processed by CMS. ​<br><br></div>HHS issued a nationwide blanket waiver of the 3-Day Prior Hospitalization and 60-day break in Benefit Period requirements to qualify for SNF Part A benefits effective March 1, 2020.
Congress Must Provide Additional Relief Funds For Long Term Care Providershttps://publish.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Congress-Must-Provide-Additional-Relief-Funds-For-Long-Term-Care-Providers.aspxCongress Must Provide Additional Relief Funds For Long Term Care Providers10/26/2020 4:00:00 AM<p>​<span style="font-size:11pt;">As discussions around the next stimulus bill continue, the health of millions of long term care residents and staff is at stake. Billions of dollars are on the line to help the country address the impact of COVID-19, and the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is <a href="https://www.wusa9.com/article/features/producers-picks/nursing-homes-worry-about-new-spike-in-deaths-as-cases-rise-again/65-02a75503-ed90-403a-bb27-0bf8edc0ab6e" target="_blank">encouraging</a> lawmakers to legislate and pass a relief package. In July, AHCA/NCAL <a href="/News-and-Communications/Press-Releases/Pages/Nursing-Homes-Request-Priority-and-Funding-From-Congress-in-Next-COVID-Bill-to-Protect-Residents-and-Caregivers.aspx" target="_blank">requested priority</a> in the next stimulus bill, including: </span></p><div><ul><li>A two-pronged approach to testing that provides financial support for increased and prioritized testing for providers and residents.</li><li>An additional $100 billion to the Provider Relief Fund with a substantial portion dedicated to long term care.</li><li>​Vaccine priority to residents and staff.</li></ul></div><div><span style="font-size:11pt;">Most of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund provided in April by the CARES Act has already been distributed, but long term care providers will need additional funding to continue fighting the virus – especially with new COVID cases now rising among the general population in the majority of the country.</span><br></div><div><br></div><div>AHCA/NCAL released a <a href="/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Report-Nursing-Homes-Cases-Oct19-2020.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> last week that showed that a third spike in cases could occur in long term care facilities due to increasing community spread. Recent data from Johns Hopkins and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that weekly nursing home cases rose in late September for the first time in seven weeks after new cases dropped significantly throughout August and early September. According to Johns Hopkins, COVID cases in the general U.S. population rose by 62,139 cases per week in late September correlating with an uptick in nursing home cases during the week of September 27.</div><div><br></div><div>With a third spike looming, long term care providers need reinforced support. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gowns, gloves and N95 masks, and timely testing are the most effective ways to keep residents and staff safe. These supplies are especially important as some states move to resume visitation. But these resources come with considerable costs, which is why additional funding from Congress is so critical.</div><div> </div><div>Without replenishing funds, the country could repeat the same mistakes that were made during the initial outbreak in the spring and the major spike over the summer. Nursing homes and assisted living communities could find themselves unprepared for the challenges of the upcoming winter season, which could inevitably result in an uptick in new COVID cases.   </div><div><br></div><div>We cannot forget that the virus still poses a considerable threat to long term care residents and staff. Congress must prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers by passing another bill as soon as possible. The funding long term care providers have received thus far has helped, but without another round of funding, providers risk losing the progress they’ve made. </div><div><br></div><div><strong>ABOUT AHCA/NCAL</strong></div><div>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit <a href="/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a> or <a href="/Assisted-Living/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">www.ncal.org</a>.<br></div>As discussions around the next stimulus bill continue, the health of millions of long term care residents and staff is at stake.
Updated HHS NHSN Reporting Requirementshttps://publish.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/Updated-HHS-NHSN-Reporting-Requirements.aspxUpdated HHS NHSN Reporting Requirements10/22/2020 4:00:00 AM<p><span style="font-size:11pt;">In an updated </span><a href="https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/covid-19-laboratory-data-reporting-guidance.pdf" target="_blank" style="font-size:11pt;">memo</a><span style="font-size:11pt;"> from HHS, the point-of-care testing results are now required as part of the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) system. The HHS memo identifies that “CMS-certified long term care facilities shall submit point-of-care COVID-19 testing data, including antigen testing data, to CDC’s NHSN."​  To report the point-of-care test results to NHSN, facilities will need to upgrade from SAMS Level-1 access to SAMS Level-3 access.  While this new requirement goes into effect immediately, AHCA has been told that enforcement discretion will be utilized until November 20th to allow time for centers to make the upgrade from Level-1 to Level-3.   </span></p><div><br></div><div>Centers must immediately take action to<a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/ltc/covid19/sams-access.html" target="_blank"> upgrade from Level-1 to Level-3</a> to avoid enforcement penalties and to meet this new requirement. T<strong>his process can take up to four weeks</strong>, so do not delay.   </div><div><br></div><div>To facilitate upgrade to SAMS Level-3 you must: </div><div><br></div><div><ul><li>Have <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/pdfs/sams/sams-id-508.pdf" target="_blank">two forms of identification</a> ready to submit <br></li></ul></div><div><p></p><ul><li>Login to SAMS at <a href="https://auth.cdc.gov/siteminderagent/forms/login.fcc?TYPE=33554433&REALMOID=06-2e4e428f-8768-4f65-a66d-911e49413d9e&GUID=&SMAUTHREASON=0&METHOD=GET&SMAGENTNAME=-SM-VfBllSkkIKR6GkMEZgI2o6e2zk/xh2fc/e5E0N/N98H5LsZWkDhX/H618YU%2bV1pFG6Dqc8o%2buj7a7BOjbw3l3DbOwJLzWlX7IAOrlseiUBdD9DB45IS4xFtcl/Rbqrug&TARGET=-SM-https://sams.cdc.gov/" target="_blank">https://sams.cdc.gov</a> and use the <em>Update Profile</em> menu option on the left side of the page. Confirm that your home mailing address is correct and current within your SAMS profile. <br></li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that your<strong> name</strong> and <strong>address</strong> match how it appears on your submitted identification (such as your state issued driver’s license). <br></li></ul></div><div><ul><li>Once you submit your identification, SAMS must confirm your identity.  Once confirmed, SAMS will send you a “Welcome to SAMS” email as well as a SAMS Grid Card mailed to hour residential/home address via USPS mail. <strong>The SAMS Grid Card permits LEVEL-3 access to NHSN</strong>.<br></li></ul></div><div><ul><li>After receiving your SAMS grid card via USPS mail, you must login to SAMS at <a href="https://auth.cdc.gov/siteminderagent/forms/login.fcc?TYPE=33554433&REALMOID=06-2e4e428f-8768-4f65-a66d-911e49413d9e&GUID=&SMAUTHREASON=0&METHOD=GET&SMAGENTNAME=-SM-VfBllSkkIKR6GkMEZgI2o6e2zk/xh2fc/e5E0N/N98H5LsZWkDhX/H618YU%2bV1pFG6Dqc8o%2buj7a7BOjbw3l3DbOwJLzWlX7IAOrlseiUBdD9DB45IS4xFtcl/Rbqrug&TARGET=-SM-https://sams.cdc.gov/" target="_blank">https://sams.cdc.gov</a>. Underneath the National Healthcare Safety Network System header, select “NHSN Reporting” link. NOTE: <strong>Do NOT access NHSN LTC Reporting as this option will direct you back to Level-1 security.</strong>  </li></ul></div><div><br></div><div>Alternatively, facilities can email <a href="mailto:nhsn@cdc.gov">nhsn@cdc.gov</a> with the subject line “Enhancing Data Security” to begin upgrading their SAMS access to use this Pathway.  ​<br></div><p>​<br></p>In an updated memo from HHS, the point-of-care testing results are now required as part of the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) system.
Weighing Pharmacy Options for the CDC Vaccine Distribution Programhttps://publish.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/Weighing-Pharmacy-Options-for-the-CDC-Vaccine-Distribution-Program.aspxWeighing Pharmacy Options for the CDC Vaccine Distribution Program10/22/2020 4:00:00 AM<p>​<span style="font-size:11pt;">There are risks associated with which pharmacy option you select for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care Program. Long term care facilities need to identify by October 30 as to how they want to receive and administer the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.  ​<br></span><span style="font-size:11pt;"><br>Providers have four options to select from:  </span></p><div><ul><li>work with CVS;  </li><li>work with Walgreens; </li><li>work with their existing pharmacy partner; or  </li><li>work with an alternative partner (e.g. hospital, local/state health department).   </li></ul></div><div> <br> </div><div> <strong>If selecting options three or four, AHCA/NCAL strongly recommends providers first ask to see a signed copy of that entity's provider agreement with their state and CDC, otherwise they run the risk of not being included in early rounds of vaccine delivery and distribution</strong>. This could result in delays in your facility obtaining the vaccine. More information can be found on <a href="/Survey-Regulatory-Legal/Emergency-Preparedness/Documents/COVID19/AHCANCAL-Overview-Pharmacy-Partnership-LTC.pdf" target="_blank">AHCA/NCAL’s program overview and FAQ’s</a>.  </div><div> <br> </div><div>The sign-up process is below: <br><span style="font-size:11pt;">​ </span><br></div><div><table cellspacing="0" width="100%" class="ms-rteTable-0" style="text-align:center;"><tbody><tr class="ms-rteTableEvenRow-0"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-0" style="width:50%;"> <strong>​NURSING​ HOMES​​</strong><br></td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-0" style="width:50%;"><div> <strong>​ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES</strong></div><div>and other congregate settings (ICF/IIDs, independent living, etc.)<br></div></td></tr><tr class="ms-rteTableOddRow-0"><td class="ms-rteTableEvenCol-0"> <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/index.html" target="_blank">​<span class="ms-rteStyle-BlueButton">Sign in ​​​​​to NHSN</span></a><br></td><td class="ms-rteTableOddCol-0"> <a href="https://redcap.link/LTCF" target="_blank"> <span class="ms-rteStyle-BlueButton">​Register through REDCap</span></a><br></td></tr></tbody></table> <br> </div><div> <br><span style="font-size:11pt;">Read more about the program </span><a href="/News-and-Communications/Blog/Pages/White-House-Announces-Vaccination-Distribution-Program-for-LTC-Residents.aspx" target="_blank" style="font-size:11pt;">here</a><span style="font-size:11pt;">.​</span><br></div>There are risks associated with which pharmacy option you select for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care Program.

​Guidance & Resources

 AHCA/NCAL

 CDC

Health Care Facility Resources

 CMS

Memos & Guidance
Resources

 Testing

Regulatory Requirements
Rapid Point-of-Care Antigen Tests

 Finance & Reimbursement

General
CARES Act Provider Relief Fund
Medicare Advantage and ACOs
Medicaid

 Training Courses

 Additional Resources