CMS Issues Stricter Guidance On Nursing Facility Visits
Late Friday, CMS tightened yet again its guidelines for visiting nursing facility residents, in recognition of the danger presented by COVID-19. In general, visitors are not allowed, “except for certain compassionate care situations, such as an end-of-life situation.” When a visit takes place, the visitor must use Personal Protective Equipment, such as facemasks, and restrict visitation to the resident’s room or another facility-designated location. To inhibit the spread of COVID-19, the guidance suggests that the visitor and resident stay six feet apart.
In making decisions about visitation, facilities are instructed to act on a case-by-case basis, including screening potential visitors for fever or respiratory symptoms. Those with such symptoms cannot visit, without exception.
Overall, the guidance communicates the heightened risk faced by nursing facility residents. All group activities, including meals, are prohibited. As a result, nursing facility residents will be facing “social distancing” to an extreme degree. Facilities are instructed to facilitate phone calls and video chats, and should do the best they can to respect the danger of COVID-19 while also recognizing residents’ emotional needs.
Waiver of 3-Day Hospital Stay for Nursing Facility Coverage
As a result of the declaration of a national emergency, CMS has waived the 3-day prior hospitalization requirement to qualify for Medicare coverage for a nursing facility stay for those individuals who need to be transferred as a result of the effect of a disaster or emergency. More information on this waiver and other waivers and flexibilities for hospitals, health care facilities, and providers are outlined in more detail in this fact sheet.