CMS announces end of emergency blanket data waiver for nursing homes

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Original story posted on: June 29, 2020

The move comes amid localized spikes in COVID-19 cases occurring nationwide.

Federal officials said Friday that they are ending an emergency blanket waiver intended to reduce administrative burden on nursing homes amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) said that effective August 14, nursing homes nationwide will again be required to submit staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system, which allows the agency to collect “staffing information which impacts the quality of care residents receive,” CMS said in a press release.

The first initial submission to PBJ must cover the second quarter of the current calendar year.

“The blanket waiver was intended to temporarily allow the agency to concentrate efforts on combating COVID-19 and reduce administrative burden on nursing homes so they could focus on patient health and safety during this public health emergency,” CMS said in a press release.

A memorandum also issued Friday provides updates related to staffing and quality measures used on the Nursing Home Compare website and the Five Star Rating System. To view the memorandum in its entirety, go online to: https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/changes-staffing-information-and-quality-measures-posted-nursing-home-compare-website-and-five-star

The New York Times reported over the weekend that while 11 percent of all U.S. COVID-19 cases have been linked to nursing homes, the same is true of a whopping 43 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. As of June 26, the Times said, the virus had infected more than 282,000 Americans at about 12,000 such facilities, resulting in at least 54,000 deaths.

In nearly half of all states, a majority of COVID-19 deaths have reportedly been linked to nursing homes. The rates are highest in the states of New Hampshire (80 percent), Minnesota, and Rhode Island (77 percent each).

The virus has reportedly sickened more than 10 million people worldwide, killing more than 500,000. The U.S. accounts for approximately a quarter of those figures, with the highest daily totals of new American cases being recorded only within the past week. 

Mark Spivey

Mark Spivey is a national correspondent for ICDmonitor.com who has been writing on numerous topics facing the nation’s healthcare system (and federal oversight of it) for five years.

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