Today's COVID-19 Report: Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Wednesday, July 29 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
All-member Call - Tomorrow, Thursday, July 30
Bringing a Physician’s Lens to COVID
LeadingAge Ohio is holding an all-member COVID-19 update call tomorrow, Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m. On the call, LeadingAge Ohio staff will be joined by Dr. Robin Jump, Associate Director of Informatics and Analytics of the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) and Associate Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. On the call, Dr. Jump will share the current understanding of COVID-19, including best practices in managing COVID in congregate settings, pharmacological management of symptoms and what testing tells us—and where it falls short.
Call in registration is as follows:
For best call quality, we encourage using your computer audio. This also allows callers to easily send questions to the speakers via the 'chat' function. Questions can also be sent to the COVID19@leadingageohio.org email address.
Please click the following link to join the webinar on your computer: https://easyconnecthd.zoom.us/j/95130566261
Or iPhone one-tap :
US: +1 312 626 6799
HEALS – New Package for Coronavirus Relief
Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Senate introduced the HEALS (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools) Act - a new package of coronavirus relief bills. The act is a package of seven bills which LeadingAge has described as "not sufficient to protect our nation’s older adults and those who serve them."
LeadingAge policy staff spent yesterday immersed in the bill package and provided an article outlining what’s in the proposal and key missing pieces for LeadingAge members. There is expected to be an Action Alert on the subject in the coming days.
Several notable pieces of the package:
- $25 billion for the provider relief fund (PRF), which is only a fraction of the $100 billion that LeadingAge believes aging services providers need.
- Affordable senior housing is a glaring gap in HEALS; LeadingAge provided an article on its omission.
- $16 billion for testing (this is described as $25 billion in the act, but includes $9 billion of previously allocated, unspent funding to the total). LeadingAge noted that the amount is insufficient.
- Incentivizes domestic PPE production via tax credits and directs that the National Strategic Stockpile be refilled from domestic producers.
- An extension to the current telehealth flexibilities through December 2021. However, it fails to include home health providers among those that can be fully reimbursed for telehealth services.
- Liability protections that LeadingAge has sought are in HEALS, and LeadingAge provided an article about the inclusion.
LeadingAge President & CEO Katie Smith Sloan made a strong statement to the media that described the resources as insufficient, continuing to keep pressure on the Administration to better support LTSS in the wake of the pandemic.
CCURT Nursing Home Testing - Submit Survey ASAP
Yesterday, the Congregate Care Unified Response Team (CCURT) hosted a webinar to provide updated guidance regarding nursing home staff testing. CCURT had previously communicated that it would be moving on to resident testing; however, as described in Saturday’s special alert, CCURT has adjusted its plans to focus on twice-monthly staff testing once it became apparent that testing resources were again becoming scarce.
The CCURT team outlined plans which match nursing homes to labs and put nursing homes on a strict schedule designed to maximize lab capacity statewide. In order to develop the schedule, nursing homes must have responded to a survey noting their total number of staff. LeadingAge Ohio has confirmed that though the survey deadline was close of business yesterday, it is not too late to complete the submission; this should be completed ASAP. As before, nursing homes may opt out of the state-supported testing and conduct it on their own, but will need to provide the state with a signed letter, on letterhead, noting the summary results of their own testing (the email subject line should include the text “Verification of Testing Results”). Nursing homes planning to opt out should indicate this on the survey.
On the webinar, Director of Medicaid Maureen Corcoran also noted that in the future Ohio hopes that nursing homes that receive the point of care testing devices will begin to test their staff using those devices, reducing the demand on the CCURT team. Several LeadingAge Ohio members have expressed interest in purchasing the devices; LeadingAge Ohio has asked for clarification on device specifications and will pass along as soon as received.
Medicaid-only Providers Registering for PRF
On a Monday webinar covering Ohio’s plans to distributed $471 million of its CARES Act funds to providers, Director of Medicaid Maureen Corcoran noted that to date, only 1.2 percent of the over-55,000 eligible Ohio providers have yet applied for the funds. LeadingAge Ohio has pointed out that several factors impede providers’ ability to access these funds. Chief among these is that organizations that received funds from the previous two tranches dedicated to Medicare providers are prohibited from receiving funds in this tranche—it is only for Medicaid providers who have not yet received funding. Further complicating this is that many Medicaid-only providers may not belong to any association, and so communicating the availability of funds is a challenge.
Questions related to this provider relief opportunity may be directed to Susan Wallace at email@example.com.
Save the Date: Bereavement Networking Forum August 11
LeadingAge Ohio invites hospice bereavement professionals, chaplains and social workers to join its next Bereavement Networking Forum, scheduled for August 11 from 12:00-1:00 pm. The virtual event will begin with an update from Ohio Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services Lori Criss, who will outline the DeWine Administration’s strategy for supporting the mental health needs of Ohioans through the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has drastically impacted the way Ohioans grieve, with traditional rituals like funerals and gatherings now limited, and many secondary losses, including job/income loss, loss of roles and routines, and other factors further complicating the bereavement process.
Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in small group discussions to share ideas, concerns and best practices they are adopting to support their communities.
Bereavement Networking Forum
August 11, 2020
12:00 - 1:00 pm
Registration is available online here.
Data Collection for Possible New Provider Relief Fund Distribution
Yesterday, LeadingAge sent an email to members notifying them that LeadingAge is participating in a multi-association effort to collect data for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to assist in potentially distributing Provider Relief Funds (PRF) to assisted living-like providers. This includes similar license categories such as personal care homes, supportive living facilities, memory care, and more.
Organizations that offer licensed/registered/certified assisted living/memory care should start preparing the following:
- Name of licensed/registered/certified assisted living and/or memory care community
- Name of entity that holds the license/registration/certification
- Community license/registration/certification number (some states may not provide a number)
- Corresponding Tax Identification Number (TIN)
- Taxpayer ID Number for the filing company
- Contact information for the person submitting data
- Include licensed assisted living that is part of a life plan community/CCRC—even if the skilled nursing facility associated has already received funding from the Provider Relief Fund
Providing the information is a time-sensitive request: the deadline is Friday, July 31 by 5:00 p.m. The data can be sent to LeadingAge's Nicole Fallon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HHS indicated that on or around August 10, HHS will open a new portal for providers who accept neither Medicare nor Medicaid (private pay providers). However, providing HHS with this data is an important step forward.
HUD Joins July 27 Housing Advisory Group Call
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) headquarters staff overseeing distribution of the CARES Act’s COVID-19 relief funds for Section 8, Section 202, and Section 811 programs joined LeadingAge’s July 27 Housing Advisory Group call. HUD staff graciously answered a long list of questions that LeadingAge shared with them from members prior to the call, and answered more questions on the spot.
It was noted that application request forms for the COVID-19 Supplemental Payment (CSP) funds are due to HUD by August 5. The Tier 2 application is a long, cumbersome application, so members should not delay in beginning the process.
CMS Shares HHQRP Tip Sheet
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shared that the Home Health COVID-19 PHE Tip Sheet is now available.
This tip sheet is designed to assist Home Health providers in understanding the status of the Home Health Quality Reporting Program (QRP) during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). Also provided is practical guidance to address Home Health quality data submission requirements starting July 1, now that the temporary Home Health QRP exemptions from the COVID-19 PHE have ended.
CMS Updates Data on COVID-19 Impacts on Medicare Beneficiaries
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its first monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population. The message below from CMS describes what the data has shown and includes a FAQ on the data release.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released its first monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population. For the first time, the snapshot includes data for American Indian/Alaskan Native Medicare beneficiaries.
The new data indicate that American Indian/Alaskan Native beneficiaries have the second highest rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 among racial/ethnic groups after Blacks. Previously, the number of hospitalizations of American Indian/Alaskan Native beneficiaries was too low to be reported.
The updated data confirm that the COVID-19 public health emergency is disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities. This is due, in part, to the higher rates of chronic health conditions in these populations and issues related to the social determinants of health.
In response to the first Medicare data snapshot and related call to action from CMS Administrator Seema Verma on June 22, the CMS Office of Minority Health hosted three listening sessions with stakeholders who serve and represent racial and ethnic minority Medicare beneficiaries. These sessions provided helpful insight into ways in which CMS can address social risks and other barriers to health care that will help in our efforts to reduce health disparities.
The updated data on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations of Medicare beneficiaries covers the period from January 1 to June 20, 2020. It is based on Medicare claims and encounter data CMS received by July 17, 2020.
Other key data points:
- Black beneficiaries continue to be hospitalized at higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups, with 670 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries.
- Beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid – who often suffer from multiple chronic conditions and have low incomes – were hospitalized at a rate more than 4.5 times higher than beneficiaries with Medicare only (719 versus 153 per 100,000).
- Beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) continue to be hospitalized at higher rates than other segments of the Medicare population, with 1,911 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries, compared with 241 per 100,000 for aged and 226 per 100,000 for disabled.
- CMS paid $2.8 billion in Medicare fee-for-service claims for COVID-related hospitalizations, or an average of $25,255 per beneficiary.
For more information on the Medicare COVID-19 data, visit: https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-systems/preliminary-medicare-covid-19-data-snapshot
For an FAQ on this data release, visit: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/medicare-covid-19-data-snapshot-faqs.pdf
LeadingAge Need to Know: COVID-19 – July 29, 2020
LeadingAge shares the latest coronavirus news and resources with members twice each weekday. This morning's update featured a message from LeadingAge Board Chair Carol Silver Elliott and a reminder about the deadline to complete applications for the Larry Minnix Leadership Academy.
Check out the full report here.
Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org. Additionally, members are encouraged to visit the LeadingAge Ohio COVID-19 Working Group facebook group to pose questions to peers and share best practices. LeadingAge is continuing its daily calls for all members. To participate in these daily online updates, members should register here.