Key provisions that provided flexibility to long-term care providers and helped alleviate administrative burdens will expire May 11, 2023.
Long-term care facilities (LTCs), skilled nursing facilities (SNF), and nursing facilities (together, LTC providers) were at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the United States, LTC providers faced uncertainty and risked their health and well-being to deliver care to the most vulnerable population in a climate of regulatory uncertainty and scrutiny, and, for a time, dealt with the absence of protective gear.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) addressed challenges for the delivery of care with diligence and agility. CMS implemented an array of waivers and flexibilities to ensure LTC patients could access preventive, routine, chronic, and acute care needs. LTC providers were able to use these regulatory flexibilities to alleviate administrative burdens in providing care to their residents. While LTCs have adapted to many of these flexibilities being rolled back over the last two years, many more are set to expire on May 11, 2023, when the PHE officially ends.
In anticipation of the PHE expiration, CMS issued guidance for LTCs that clarifies which regulatory flexibilities will continue and which flexibilities will end; key expiring provisions are summarized below. LTC providers also need to check with their respective state regulating agencies for specific policies that may expire with the PHE, impacting care planning, access to medical records, face-to-face requirements, and even Medicaid coverage. LTC providers should be aware of interim rules, such as reporting requirements.
Certain LTC flexibilities will end in conjunction with the May 11 PHE expiration, resulting in the following practices and procedures.
COVID-19 Testing Protocols
The following LTC flexibilities will continue beyond the PHE expiration on May 11.
Provider State Licensure
The following LTC requirements will be in place, but will sunset after expiration of the PHE on May 11.
COVID-19 Testing Protocols
As regulatory flexibilities expire, LTCs should prepare for the additional administrative burdens associated with admitting new residents that were the norm pre-pandemic but relaxed during the PHE. Further, while the PHE may be expiring, LTCs should ensure that their COVID-19 infrastructure remains intact so that they can continue to report cases of COVID-19 to residents and their families.
While other COVID-19-related protocols, specifically testing, will no longer be required, LTCs should be sure to maintain records because enforcement and accompanying civil monetary penalties will still apply.
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