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CMS: COVID-19 Emergency Declaration for SNFs

The Federal Department of Health and Human Services issued an updated memo on COVID-19 protocols from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) official, David Wright. The memo states:

  • Facilities should restrict visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, such as an end-of-life situation. In those cases, visitors will be limited to a specific room only.

Exceptions to restrictions:

Health care workers: Facilities should follow CDC guidelines for restricting access to health care workers. This also applies to other health care workers, such as hospice workers, EMS personnel, or dialysis technicians, that provide care to residents. They should be permitted to come into the facility as long as they meet the CDC guidelines for health care workers. Facilities should contact their local health department for questions, and frequently review the CDC website dedicated to COVID-19 for health care professionals (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html).

Surveyors: CMS and state survey agencies are constantly evaluating their surveyors to ensure they don’t pose a transmission risk when entering a facility.

The COVID-19 emergency declaration also includes a waiver of the three-day stay rule for receiving Medicare coverage of skilled nursing care; under normal circumstances, Medicare beneficiaries must spend three days at a hospital within a 30-day window to qualify for skilled nursing care coverage. In addition, for certain beneficiaries who recently exhausted their SNF benefits, it authorizes renewed SNF coverage without first having to start a new benefit period.

CMS is also waiving 42 CFR 483.20 to provides relief to SNFs on the timeframe requirements for Minimum Data Set assessments and transmission.

If you have questions about how these restrictions or updates affect your facility, please contact our post-acute care team today

Please continue to monitor our Coronavirus Resources and Information Page and COVID-19 Relief & Operations FAQs for updates.

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