HCA Assessing Home Care Applicability of New CMS Guidance on Nursing Home Testing  

Situation Report | September 8, 2020

On August 26, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance for nursing homes and clinical laboratories as part of a federal requirement for COVID-19 testing in nursing homes.

The federal directive is notable for some New York home care providers, given state-level requirements that staff must undergo COVID-19 testing when they provide care in skilled nursing facilities, including home care and hospice staff who provide services in those settings.

In June, under an Executive Order from the Governor, the frequency of state-required testing was reduced to once-per-week in regions that have reached a phase two of reopening.

This most recent federal guidance memo outlines steps that facilities must take under the new testing requirements, including instruction on terms of frequency, reporting, documentation and other requirements and a revised facility survey tool for program compliance.

The “Nursing Home Testing Update” is here. The “Lab Testing Update” is here. CMS has also posted an interim final rule on these requirements here.

The applicability of New York’s SNF testing mandate to home care and hospice staff has caused major confusion across the field, in large part due to the state Department of Health’s abrupt reversal of guidance and interpretations when the issue emerged in May.

The new federal guidelines seem to require testing on a less frequent basis than the state’s requirements, but home care and hospice agencies will still have to abide by the state’s guidance. HCA will notify members if the state revises its requirements.