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*Updates are listed by date with the most recent listed first.

11/30/20: CDC Testing and Management Considerations for Nursing Home Residents with Acute Respiratory Illness Symptoms when SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza Viruses are Co-circulating: The following practices should be considered when SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza viruses are found to be co-circulating based upon local public health surveillance data and testing at local healthcare facilities. While these considerations are specific to care of residents residing in nursing homes, some practices could be adapted for use in other long-term care settings (e.g. assisted living facilities).

11/30/20: CMS Announces Comprehensive Strategy to Enhance Hospital Capacity Amid COVID-19 Surge: Last Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined steps to increase the capacity of the American health care system to provide care to patients outside a traditional hospital setting amid a rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hospitalizations across the country. These flexibilities include allowances for safe hospital care for eligible patients in their homes and updated staffing flexibility designed to allow ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) to provide greater inpatient care when needed. Building on CMS's previous actions to expand the availability of telehealth across the nation, these actions are aimed at allowing health care services to be provided outside a hospital setting while maintaining capacity to continue critical non-COVID-19 care, allowing hospitals to focus on the increased need for care stemming from public health emergency (PHE).  Read the announcement HERE.

11/30/20: Provider Relief Funds Reporting Requirements: Join LeadingAge on December 2 from 1:00-2:00 CT for an overview of the Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements/guidance and timelines, including ways providers can avoid potential compliance pitfalls. The first report will be due by February 15, 2021. The training will be provided by CliftonLarsonAllen and is $99 for LeadingAge provider members and $199 to non-members.  The training will:

  • Review steps providers must take to comply with requirements while maximizing their use of Provider Relief Funds.
  • Highlight key issues for providers to pay attention to (e.g., implications of reporting lost revenue on a calendar year vs. quarterly basis, challenges for non-calendar year fiscal years, etc.)
  • Discuss the interplay between various COVID-19 funding sources such as PRF, Paycheck Protection Program, FEMA grants and other CARES Act funds.

11/30/20: Provider Relief Updates:

  • List of nursing homes receiving September payments and their amounts: Late today, HHS published, as promised, the list of nursing homes receiving the September Nursing Home Infection Control Incentive Payments, the performance scores, and infection data used.  This can help those providers/members who operate multiple nursing homes under a single TIN to determine how to distribute the payments received in aggregate.
  • Missing September Nursing Home Infection Control Incentive Payments: We heard back from HHS last week regarding our inquiry on behalf of more than 70 member nursing homes that did not receive a September incentive payment but believed they qualified.  HHS said it will not "recalculate payments for previous months.  However, in order to qualify for future quality incentive payments, providers should ensure they upload their current data accurately to the NHSN system."  However, we followed up on this very unsatisfactory response, and HHS said it would ask HRSA staff to research what issue caused the disqualification.
  • Nursing Home Infection Control Incentive Payments: The second portion of the Sept. incentive payment for those who had a mortality during the performance period began appearing in provider bank accounts today, Monday, Nov. 30. The October incentive payments should arrive within the next week.
  • Phase III Payments:  HHS validated roughly 75,000 providers for this round of payment. About 7000 providers are still uncurated but will be included in the payment calculations. HHS has set up a call center to reach out to these providers and get them validated and issue payments.  We expect to hear more later this week or early next week about how HHS is calculating the add-on payments as part of this phase.

11/30/20: LeadingAge/NADSA Letter for Adult Day Services: Funding LeadingAge and National Adult Day Services Association submitted a joint letter to Congressional leaders to request funding for Adult Day Services.  The request is for $422.5 million to be made available to adult day services providers to offset revenue loss during mandatory closures and reduced attendees. The letter can be read HERE.

11/30/20: Face Masks, Including Surgical Masks and Respirators: The FDA published Face Masks, Including Surgical Masks, and Respirators for COVID-19, a comprehensive new page on FDA.gov with answers to frequently asked questions about face masks, surgical masks, and respirators. The topics covered in this new page include:

  • The basics on face masks, surgical masks, and respirators 
  • Using face masks, surgical masks, and respirators
  • Shortages of face masks, surgical masks, and respirators during COVID-19
  • The Emergency Use Authorizations for face masks, surgical masks, and respirators
  • Manufacturing and importing face masks, surgical masks, and respirators during COVID-19
  • Purchasing or donating face masks, surgical masks, and respirators during COVID-19
  • Reporting shortages or problems with face masks, surgical masks, or respirators

11/30/20: State Vaccine Plan-LTC Pharmacy Partnership - Matching List: If you were able to join us on the member call last Wednesday, you heard an update from Sara Morgan, Administrator with DHHS Division of Public Health.  Sara provided some great information on what IS and IS NOT included in the Plan currently.  Some things are iterative and the Plan will change as more information is ascertained. HERE is the list provided by NDHHS regarding the Pharmacy Partnership through the CDC LTC program.  Some providers were matched (by CDC) with a pharmacy that was not listed as their first choice.  Some are unmatched.  If you are unmatched, Sara recommended reaching out to your Local Health Department to see if they can serve as your partner.  If you have questions contact the NDHHS Immunization Program at dhhs.immunization@nebraska.gov or (402) 471-6423.

11/25/20: State Vaccine Plan: If you were able to join us on the member call today, you heard an update and q&a from Sara Morgan, Administrator with DHHS Division of Public Health.  Sara provided some great information on what IS and IS NOT included in the Plan currently.  Some things are iterative and the Plan will change as more information is ascertained. 

Some of you have heard from your Pharmacy Partner through the CDC LTC program.  We are working to get a list from the Sara that includes information on which facilities have been partnered with which pharmacies, as it sounds like some facilities were matched with pharmacies that they did not designate.  This matching was done by CDC.  Those facilities that are not matched should reach out to their Local Health Departments. More to come on this.  

Healthcare workers are prioritized to receive the vaccine when it becomes available, however, the vaccine that is anticipated to be received first by the State (Pfizer) requires ultra-cold storage which will limit where it can be stored and also distributed.  The second vaccine that is anticipated will not require the ultra-cold storage and may be distributed more widely.  

If you have questions or know of a pharmacy that you work with that would like to be added to the State's approved COVID-19 pharmacy list that you can contact the NDHHS Immunization Program at dhhs.immunization@nebraska.gov or (402) 471-6423.

11/25/20: Nursing Home Infection Control Incentive Payments-Why didn't my facility receive one? We have been providing updates on the Nursing Home Infection Control Incentive Payments frequently.  A number of providers have indicated that they believe that they qualified for an Incentive Payment but did not receive one.  LeadingAge National (Nicole Fallon) provided a list of these facilities, including Nebraska providers, who did not receive payments to HHS.  HHS responded by indicating that Provider Quality Incentive Payments (QIP) were determined using data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) (https://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/ltc/covid19/index.html). To be eligible for September payments, facilities were required to properly report 10 weeks of NHSN data: the 4 weeks of the September performance period and the 6 preceding weeks and asking facilities to ensure that they did not have any data issues.  After checking for data issues, a number of providers were still unable to determine why a payment was not received. 

Providers who have reached out to NHSN have received a generic response indicating that HHS will not recalculate payments for previous months and that providers should ensure they upload their current data accurately to NHSN.  LeadingAge National is receiving this same response.  If you did not receive a payment and believe you should have, you should work with NHSN to determine what, if any, of the required information is not being supplied to be eligible for payments moving forward.  

HERE is the current Quality Incentive Payment Methodology document that HHS is using to determine these payments. Please see the top of page 2, which includes some other potential disqualifying factors. One of the surprising items is HHS is looking at not only NHSN data for the performance period but also the 6 weeks prior.  What some of our members have discovered when they go back into NHSN is that some of the records now show incomplete when they didn't show that when initially submitted. LeadingAge is trying to obtain more information on this. 

Reminder: Providers who receive an incentive payment have 90 days to attest to the payment using the attestation portal and must use these funds for Infection Control expenses as specified under the Terms & Conditions for the NHIC Distribution. Providers must attest every time they receive a Provider Relief Fund payment. Providers can opt to reject these payments as well.

11/25/20: CMS Announces Comprehensive Strategy to Enhance Hospital Capacity Amid COVID-19 Surge: Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined steps to increase the capacity of the American health care system to provide care to patients outside a traditional hospital setting amid a rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hospitalizations across the country. These flexibilities include allowances for safe hospital care for eligible patients in their homes and updated staffing flexibility designed to allow ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) to provide greater inpatient care when needed. These actions are aimed at allowing health care services to be provided outside a hospital setting while maintaining capacity to continue critical non-COVID-19 care, allowing hospitals to focus on the increased need for care stemming from public health emergency (PHE).  The CMS Announcement, links to the programs, and FAQs can be found HERE.

11/25/20: HUD Updates CSP Information for Continued Relief Payments: Following Monday's announcement of continued availability of COVID-19 Supplemental Payments (CSPs) for HUD multifamily housing providers, HUD has provided updated tips for filling out the request form. The "Tips and Explanations" sheet covers technical tips and suggestions for filling out HUD's form for Tier I and Tier II payments. For this second round of CSPs, housing providers have until December 11th to file for costs incurred from August 1 - November 30th; properties that did not receive payments for the initial period (March 27 - July 31) also have the option to submit or resubmit under the new HUD guidance. More information about the CSP announcement is available here

11/23/20: Update on Per Diem Increase Processing for NF/AL: Jeremy Brunssen with the DHHS Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care provided an update last Friday regarding the $20 per day temporary payment rate increases to NF and AL providers.  As was shared a few weeks ago, NF payments have all been updated and the retroactive claims ran just over a week ago.  Providers should have received those payments last Wednesday.  Special needs days did not process, so those should have processed this past weekend and be received by this Wednesday (11/25).  

On the ALF side - all the of rates have been updated and retroactive claims were run this past weekend.  Payments for ALFs should be received Wednesday of this week. MLTC received approval last Friday from CMS on the Appendix K for the ALF temporary rate increase.

The MLTC NF team is updating rate sheets for the Jan-June 2021 rate period and should have all the rate sheets sent to providers by December 11th.  This will have minor changes from the current (July-December) Rate sheets.  The only changes would be related to a quality measure score/Rate add on changed, and a fixed cost increases that were requested/approved.  

On Friday, Nebraska Medicaid updated their Provider Bulletin to clarify that the temporary per diem increase also applies to the Nursing Facility per diem rate paid for Hospice Services furnished by Hospice providers in Nursing Facilities.

11/23/20: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators: Today CDC updated guidance on how to optimize N95 respirators  during COVID-19, adding crisis capacity strategies, including a recommendation to limit the number of reuses to no more than five donnings per device if no manufacturer guidance is available.

11/23/20: HUD Reopens COVID-19 Payment Applications: Today, HUD announced the continued availability of supplemental funds for HUD-assisted multifamily housing providers responding to COVID-19. In July, HUD had announced the initial request period for COVID-19 Supplemental Payments; the new HUD notice establishes a second request window and updates the submission requirements. The filing deadline for multifamily housing owners is December 11, 2020 for expenses incurred through November 30. Properties that did not receive payments for the earlier timeframe (March 27-July 31) may resubmit for that period as well. Compared to the previous notice, HUD has made changes to include clarifications on the eligibility of RAD Section 8 properties, eligible activities for CSP funds, and allowable signatories for the request form. More information will be available here on Tuesday.

11/23/20: Nursing Home Infection Control Incentive Payments: Provider Quality Incentive Payments (QIP) were determined using data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) (https://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/ltc/covid19/index.html). To be eligible for September payments, facilities were required to properly report 10 weeks of NHSN data: the 4 weeks of the September performance period and the 6 preceding weeks. Facilities that believe they were eligible for a September payment, but did not receive a payment, should work directly with NHSN to ensure that their data is accurately represented and data reporting issues do not occur going forward.  This requirement is listed under "NHSN data quality checks" that are performed for each nursing home and stated in the methodology document (top of p. 2). Please make sure that your reporting meets the requirements described above.

Today, HHS informed LeadingAge that the second portion of the September payment (an additional $80+M) will begin going on out on Monday, Nov. 30 to 8,925 nursing homes (no list available) based off of the nursing home's mortality performance. The smallest payment is $101.22 and the highest payment will be more than $1.1M.  LeadingAge national has updated the article related to these payments.  The September mortality portion of the payment was delayed as HHS tried to collect additional mortality data from nursing homes beyond what is reported on NHSN. HHS has concluded that going forward they will use total fatalities for the performance period instead of trying to discern between deaths of residents due to COVID admissions vs. in-facility infections. The updated Nursing Home Infection Control incentive payment methodology can be reviewed here.  

HHS indicated it will soon publish the facility-level detail about the September payments on the Provider Relief Fund website that LeadingAge has been asking for. This should help those organizations with multiple nursing homes know how to distribute the funds.

Providers who receive an incentive payment have 90 days to attest to the payment using the attestation portal and must use these funds for Infection Control expenses as specified under the Terms & Conditions for the NHIC Distribution. Providers must attest every time they receive a Provider Relief Fund payment. Providers can opt to reject these payments as well.

11/23/20: Monoclonal Antibody Treatment - LTC Pilot: As you have likely heard, Nebraska is part of a pilot study for LTC related to Bamlanivimab.  As doses start shipping out to currently identified pilot participants, here is a SUMMARY of the Emergency Use Authorization shared with the permission of Andrew Watkins, Pharm.D. with the UNMC ASAP Team.  As indicated in the summary, the drug can be left at room temperature for 7 hours.  Those 7 hours include the one hour time for administration, meaning administration would need to start by hour 6.

11/23/20: Beneficiary Care Management Program (BCMP): CMS has a new program, BCMP.  One of their initiatives includes supporting Medicare Fee-for-Service beneficiaries undergoing a discharge appeal and experiencing chronic medical conditions requiring lifelong care management. The ultimate goal is to reduce high-cost healthcare utilization such as hospital readmissions and emergency room visits. Information for providers and beneficiaries is available at https://www.bcmpqio.org.

11/23/20: CMS Calls Certain Nursing Homes: LeadingAge has heard from CMS about phone calls they are making to nursing homes in red or yellow counties who report no testing in the NHSN. The calls are legitimate. As CMS looks at NHSN data and monitoring if facilities report if they are testing when they also report cases.  Individuals from our Office Program Operations and Local Engagement (OPOLE) and QIOs will be calling nursing homes to ask them why they may be in a yellow or red county, yet reported no staff testing. Or, if they reported cases, yet reported no outbreak testing. The calls are not being done from a survey perspective. So, if you get a call from CMS regarding testing, you'll know what is triggering the call. 

11/23/20: Temporary Nurse Aide Training: Many of you had been using the free-of-cost EduCare program that was available through the LeadingAge Learning Hub to train your Temp Nurse Aides.  The training IS STILL AVAILABLE, but no longer in the Learning Hub.  Here is the link to the new location on the EduCare site.

11/18/20: UPDATE FROM EARLIER TODAY: CMS has now released an ALERT for the holidays. 

Key points from the CMS alert include:

  • CMS will not be relaxing visitation restrictions for the holidays.
  • Providers should educate residents/families on the risks of going out (and discourage leaving).
  • If the resident/family insists on leaving, providers should educate them on mitigation strategies.
  • Providers may need to consider additional precautions upon return for those who choose to leave.
  • Providers should also discourage staff from attending gatherings and engaging in other risky behavior.

Don't forget these helpful resources from CDC:

11/18/20: DHHS Approves Guidance Documents Today: Guidance on Outings and Home Visits: Over the past few weeks we have discussed guidance related to Outings and Home Visits in particularly in conjunction with the upcoming holidays. CDC has provided guidance related to the holidays as well. DHHS approved guidance related to Nebraska today.  

11/18/20: Guidance on Nasal Swabbing: On member calls we have discussed the need for clarification on who can do nasal swabbing for the various types of tests being used currently in LTC. Today DHHS approved guidance related to Nasal Swabbing as well. Many of you have indicated that due to staff resources it would be helpful to have non-nurses help with this process.  

11/18/20: LeadingAge Testing Toolkit NOW AVAILABLE to Members: LeadingAge National in conjunction with Pathway Health are developing a series of COVID-19 toolkits for members. The first in the series is a Testing Toolkit and it is AVAILABLE now exclusively to LeadingAge members. The document has to be considered in relation to State guidance, of course, but contains some terrific resources, such as an Antigen Testing Policy, Billing for COVID-19 Testing, Competency Checklist and Training Plan. LA provider members, you will need your email and password (for national) to access the Toolkit through your my.leadingage.org account. If you are a LeadingAge Nebraska provider member, you are also a LeadingAge national member. 

To create a My LeadingAge account and get access to all the Member Benefits go to https://my.leadingage.org/core/user/login.aspx. If you need assistance with your My LeadingAge account call 1-888-508-9441 or email MyLeadingAgeSupport@LeadingAge.org.

11/18/20: Changes Coming to NHSN: As providers continue to report to NHSN, more changes are on the way.  NHSN will be making some changes to Testing, Confirmed Tests, Reinfection, COVID-19 Deaths, and Non-COVID Related Respiratory Infection. Also, a reminder that ALL tests run must be reported to satisfy the CLIA requirements. That can be done in NHSN.

11/18/20: Nursing Home Compare Retired: In September, CMS unveiled a consolidated "Care Compare" site that merged the 8 provider-specific sites into one. Since then, consumers have been able to access Nursing Home Compare, Hospice Compare, Home Health Compare, etc. all under the same location of https://www.medicare.gov/care-compare/. CMS announced today that the provider-specific sites have officially been retired. The information that is displayed on Care Compare has not changed from what was displayed on the previous compare sites, but has been consolidated under one interface with an updated look.

11/18/20: NHSN Nursing Home Occupancy by State: Nationwide, the nursing home occupancy rate is 71%, with a range from 57% - 83%.  Here's a run of NHSN data on occupancy rates by state as of October 25.

11/16/20: Monoclonal Antibody Pilot Project for LTC: As we spoke during last Wednesday's member call, there is a plan to start rolling out an infusion treatment available to COVID positive, non-hospitalized, symptomatic NF and ALF residents. You may have already heard from your local or regional hospital provider about this and it is anticipated to start soon with Great Plains Health in North Platte. In order to prioritize which LTC providers may be able to come into the pilot next, LTC providers will likely be receiving a survey in the next day or two from DHHS requesting more information.  

11/11/20: New DHMs Take Effect Today in Nebraska: Today, new DHMs were implemented in Nebraska.  You can view a summary of the updated DHMs HERE.

11/11/20: Member Call Today: If you were able to join the member call today you heard about work being done in a number of areas regarding the surge in positive cases around the state, the need for hospital beds, and the possibility of a pilot launching with LTC providers related to monoclonal antibodies. There will be more to follow on all of these issues. Information will be rolling out quickly. If you have any innovative approaches to collaboration with your local hospital, please share it with Jenifer (jenifer.acierno@leadingagene.org). We heard from many of you that you would be willing to take "step-down" level patients from hospitals but for staffing and survey. We hear you. In regard to staffing, please see this DOCUMENT spreadsheet provided by FEMA to Angela Ling at DHHS. It includes a long list of potential workforce options.  

Also included from today's member call is this sample Positive Resident Treatment Plan that was shared by an attendee.

11/11/20: Additional NHSN Training- POC Reporting: CDC has announced 2 more training session opportunities on the new point-of-care testing tool on NHSN. Trainings will be held this week on Thursday, November 12 at 3:00pm ET and Friday, November 13 at 12:00pm ET. Register for these training sessions here. The slides have been posted here. CDC has indicated that a recording of the training session will be posted in the future.

11/11/20: Provider Relief Funds- Missing Payments? A quick update for those of you who did not receive an Infection Control Incentive Payment but believe that you met the gateway criteria. HHS has NOT published a list of nursing homes who received the incentive payments or how much they are. LeadingAge national continues to pursue these issues with HHS.  If you are a nursing home in this situation and you HAVE NOT yet discussed with Jenifer, you may submit your information to Nicole Fallon at LeadingAge national using this survey monkey tool:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M7K9625.  If you have already discussed with Jenifer your information has already been included. 

Providers who are stuck in PRF Phase 2 due to TIN validation or no payment received can also submit their information to Nicole using this survey monkey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MLRHT9D.

11/11/20: Holiday Plans Survey for Residential Providers: As the holidays approach, we know that many members are working hard to figure out the best way to plan for celebrations, travel, and family gatherings for residents and staff. LeadingAge national wants to get a better sense of where members are landing on plans, so they have developed a short survey on residential providers' plans for accommodating residents, staff and families who want to gather together with loved ones over the holidays. If your organization provides affordable housing, assisted living, independent living, life plan/CCRC, memory support home or nursing home care, please take this 5-question survey. The deadline is Thursday, Nov 12. Thank you!

This issue remains a hot topic. LeadingAge released an article that reviews Member Solutions for a COVID-Safe Thanksgiving earlier in the week and now has released this companion article on CDC and States Guidance for Thanksgiving: Travel and Gatherings. More Nebraska state level information to follow soon.

11/9/20: LeadingAge Introduces the Pandemic Playbook: This year will be remembered as a time when the worst pandemic in a century brought isolation, illness, and death to too many older adults and the people who care for them across settings in communities around the country. LeadingAge believes this year has also brought tremendous lessons for aging services providers. That's why we're proud to develop the Pandemic Playbook, an interactive collection of insight, wisdom, and best practices for serving older adults during a catastrophic health crisis like the one we're facing now.

LeadingAge members have learned critical lessons about navigating a pandemic. We've gathered your collective intelligence for the future. The Pandemic Playbook will help ensure that aging services providers-in our membership and beyond-can prepare for and mitigate the impact of a pandemic by applying learning from this year.

Visit the Playbook now at playbook.leadingage.org. Please feel free to share the Playbook with your colleagues, LeadingAge members or not.

Our field has learned so much about dealing with the pandemic. Why not benefit from lessons learned by 700+ LeadingAge members? Some highlights of the Pandemic Playbook:

  • Need to communicate with your staff, residents, the media, etc.? Use our communications templates for clear messaging and time-saving advantages.
  • Struggling with how to safely re-open to visitors? We have an entire Chapter on Reopening.
  • Have workforce issues? See how LTSS providers have maintained staffing levels and rewarded staff dedication.
  • Crisis management is not easy, is not what leadership anticipates and requires a massive dose of resiliency. Engage your board, community and leadership team to emerge successfully.
  • Rising expenses and dropping income and occupancy? The Playbook offers guidance and strategies to mitigate the financial impact of a pandemic.  

11/9/20: Holiday Plans Survey For Residential Providers: As the holidays approach, we know that many members are working hard to figure out the best way to plan for celebrations, travel, and family gatherings for residents and staff. LeadingAge national wants to get a better sense of where members are landing on plans, so they have developed a short survey on residential providers' plans for accommodating residents, staff and families who want to gather together with loved ones over the holidays. If your organization provides affordable housing, assisted living, independent living, life plan/CCRC, memory support home or nursing home care, please take this 5-question survey. The deadline is Thursday, Nov 12. Thank you!

This issue remains a hot topic. Today, LeadingAge released an article that reviews Member Solutions for a COVID-Safe Thanksgiving and, very soon, a companion article on CDC and States Guidance for Thanksgiving: Travel and Gatherings will follow.

11/9/20: Suicide Prevention Training Opportunity for LTC: LeadingAge Nebraska has been contacted by the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center to participate in a training program that they have funding for related to prevention of suicide in LTC. The Partners in Preparedness group through the College of Public Health will also be included in this opportunity.

This effort begins with training one individual in up to 50 LTCF locations to become a trainer in the evidence-based life-saving practice of Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) ©. Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and crisis, and how to properly question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Trained staff within your facility will be equipped with the skills and materials to train 25+ fellow coworkers in QPR. This is being offered at NO COST to the initial 50 providers and includes the materials and licensing for those participants. If you are a multi-site location you have the option to train a designee from each location or one for all locations.

If you are interested in this opportunity, here is the link to register: https://go.unl.edu/FrontlineQPR

Click HERE for more details on the training opportunity. Contact Natalie McCormick at natalie.mccormick@leadingagene.org if you have questions!

11/9/20: BD Veritor Educational Tools: Here is a listing of BD Veritor tools with links:

11/4/20: Register for Nebraska Project ECHO ICAP Hub: Nursing Home providers, do you think that you turned in your name to participate with Project ECHO through ICAP? That was the first step in letting ICAP know of your interest, HOWEVER, you must fill out both of these forms to be officially registered (one of which was posted on the ICAP site last Thursday).

Nursing Home Participant Survey (Do not complete if you have already filled this out): https://unmcredcap.unmc.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=MA3KEEMWYP

Nursing Home ECHO Registration Authorization (Added on 10/29): https://unmcredcap.unmc.edu/redcap/surveys/?s=FP4WDLCH8R

To be registered and added to a cohort you must complete the documents by Friday, November 6, as introductory sessions will begin next week.  Contact Sarah Stream at sstream@nebraskamed.com if you have questions.

11/2/20: Governor Ricketts Announces Additional Funding for LTC: Governor Ricketts announced in his 10:00 am CT press conference today that the per diem Medicaid rate for Nebraska LTC facilities (Nursing Facility and Assisted Living) will increase by $20/day and will be paid retroactive to May 1, 2020, continuing through December 31, 2020. This will total close to $40 million that will be designated to go directly to LTC facilities in the state. More details will follow. Interim Director Jeremy Brunssen indicated that he anticipates claims will be reprocessed and payments made beginning in November. He also indicated that managed care entities covering Medicaid NF and AL will be following suit.

11/2/20: Governor Ricketts Announces New Director of Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care: Utah man has been named the new director of the Nebraska Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday. 

Kevin Bagley, who replaces Matthew Van Patton, who left in February, has worked for the Utah Division of Medicaid since 2011 and is the director of long-term services and supports in the division.

Holiday Travel and Family Visits and COVID: CDC has issued a variety of guidance on All Holiday Travel, Thanksgiving, Considerations for Events and Gatherings, and for People with Increased Risk Exposure. A few states have also offered guidance related to holidays. LeadingAge Nebraska is working with Nebraska Healthcare, ICAP and DHHS to assess these issues as well. More to come on this.

11/2/20: Provider Relief Infection Control Incentive Payments: We have begun hearing from members that have received infection control incentive payments based off of their September performance. If you are a provider who believes that you should have received a payment, but did not, please contact Jenifer (jenifer.acierno@leadingagene.org) so this can be shared with LeadingAge national for further conversation with HHS. 

For those of you who want to see more detail on how the incentive payments were determined, HERE is a document that includes more specificity on the Nursing Home Quality Incentive Payment Methodology.

11/2/20: Home Health Final Rule: CMS released the final CY2021 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update rule last Thursday. The final rule:

  • Updates the payment rates for home health agencies by 2% for 2021.
  • Adopts the new OMB statistical area delineations while capping wage index decreases at 5% for 2021 which is consistent with CMS policy across the Medicare program.
  • Holds LUPA thresholds, case-mix weights, and behavior assumptions at the same levels as CY2020.
  • Finalizes the changes to §409.43(a) as implemented in the March 2020 IFC that states that the plan of care can and must include any provision of services furnished via telecommunications systems. The rule reiterates that visits via a telecommunications system cannot substitute for a home visit ordered as part of the plan of care and cannot count as a home visit for purposes of eligibility or payment. 

The rule also discusses the new home infusion benefit, reporting on the Home Health Value Based Purchasing Program, and changes to the Conditions of Participation OASIS requirements.

11/2/20: The State of Nebraska and the Department of Health & Human Services has Announced Round 2 of Community CARES Grants: Round 2 of Community CARES Grants is open. Organizations that received a Stabilization Grant in Round 1 (awarded in July 2020) are not eligible for Round 2 funding. The only exception to this rule is Assisted Living Facilities and Long-Term Care Facilities. These two types of facilities are eligible to apply for Stabilization Round 2 funding, regardless of whether they applied for Round 1 funding. If you are a provider of long-term care services and received assistance under Round 1 of these DHHS grants, you ARE eligible to apply again under Round 2. The application deadline is November 13. Link directly to the application portal: https://mcrcares.servicenowservices.com/nebraska.

11/2/20: BREAKING NEWS: GOVERNOR RICKETTS ANNOUNCES TEMPORARY INCREASE IN MEDICAID PER DIEM Governor Ricketts announced in his 10:00 am CT press conference today that the per diem Medicaid rate for Nebraska LTC facilities (Nursing Facility and Assisted Living) will increase by $20/day and will be paid back to May 1, 2020, continuing through December 31, 2020. This will total close to $40 million that will be designated to go directly to LTC facilities in the state.

Jenifer Acierno spoke as part of the press conference and expressed her thanks to facility providers and front-line workers for all their hard work in protecting residents of LTC facilities. Nebraska has been fortunate to have amazing providers of long-term care, invaluable assistance with Nebraska ICAP and collaboration with DHHS.  The Governor again stressed the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding the "3 Cs": 1) crowded places, 2) close contacts, and 3) confined spaces. Maintaining those disciplines will help keep all Nebraskans safe, and especially our most vulnerable.