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05/18/2020

Today's COVID-19 Report: Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Tuesday, May 19 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

ODH Joint Survey Mandatory Today, Tomorrow, Thursday

The joint survey created by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) has undergone some updates. ODH has made the survey mandatory for the next three days beginning today. The survey is due by 5:00 pm today (May 19), tomorrow (May 20), and Thursday (May 21). While the majority of the survey remains the same, a few questions have been added or modified to account for changes in testing capacity that did not exist several weeks ago.

In order to facilitate joining the survey data with other data sources, ODH has also asked for an ODH License number in addition to the NPI. Please fill out a survey for each ODH ID. If a single facility has a Residential Care section and a Skilled Nursing section, please provide each ODH ID with the data recorded for separate entity.

ODH noted that facilities should pay special attention to the COVID testing section, as several questions have been modified to account for different phases of testing and the possibility of asymptomatic and recovered individuals being in the population now. Some questions are asking for cumulative unique resident counts, while others are asking for counts as of the current week (e.g. over time a 100-bed facility may have tested 50 residents, but this week there were 10 new tests). Because some residents may now be tested more than once, ODH is going to track total unique counts, as well as weekly numbers.

ODH has made the survey mandatory for the next three days beginning today. The survey is due by 5:00 pm today (May 19), tomorrow (May 20), and Thursday (May 21).

CMS Releases Reopening Guidance for NFs, Aging Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released guidance on a three-phased approach to reopening senior care facilities and nursing homes. The new QSO-20-30-NH memo provides guidance on relaxing of certain restrictions, visitation, service limitations, and survey activity. State and local officials’ decisions on relaxing of restrictions are to be based on COVID cases in the community and nursing homes, adequate staffing, testing, universal source control, PPE, and local hospital capacity.

Additional criteria for reopening are recommended for nursing homes. This includes base-line negative tests for all residents and staff, requiring nursing homes with outbreaks to be surveyed before reopening, and the general community’s reopening to happen prior to the reopening of nursing homes. If nursing homes have a new nursing home COVID-19 case, they are to go back to phase 1. Nursing homes are to remain in a phase for a minimum of 14 days prior to progressing to the next level.

Beginning in phase 2, surveys will be prioritized to those facilities with complaints with high risk for harm, outbreaks, special focus facilities, and those who are overdue for their annual survey and have a history of noncompliance at a harm level.

LeadingAge described the reopening plan as "complex, complicated, and confusing at best,", noting that "certain recommendations, such as adequate staffing, adequate PPE, and a testing plan including baseline testing for all residents and staff, will prove insurmountable without significant support for nursing homes."

LeadingAge issued a statement on the CMS memo. Additional question and answer can be found in CMS’ FAQ for reopening nursing homes, as well as the LeadingAge summary of the memo

LeadingAge Ohio will be sharing the Ohio Department of Health’s plan for reopening of Ohio’s congregate settings as soon as possible. A big "thank you" to the individuals who have volunteered to help develop best practices for staff decision-making during the reopening! We look forward to continued discussion.

Palmetto eServices Down

Palmetto GBA has shared that eServices users are currently unable to access Eligibility or MBI Lookup data. There was a glitch in the claim system which caused some RCD providers to get ADRs. Providers can ignore the ADRs and someone will manually fix the ADRs today. 

Palmetto is working to resolve these issues and will notify providers when the function is restored or an update is available.

LeadingAge Ohio Supports Legal Protection Against COVID-19 Suits

Last week, LeadingAge Ohio joined other long-term care associations to lobby in support of HB 606, which would give long-term care providers legal immunity against anticipated court actions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Hearings were held last week before the House Civil Justice Committee, while at the same time, the Senate heard from dozens of business interests which supported that chamber's similar bill (SB 308, LeadingAge Ohio testimony). 

As nursing homes have continued to serve on the front lines of the pandemic, LeadingAge Ohio feels that these essential services require additional legal protection for employees. The bill would protect healthcare workers from liability for good-faith acts taken while providing care during this crisis. 

The bill does not provide immunity for workers who act "manifestly outside the person's scope of responsibilities, with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner," according to the Legislative Service Commission's analysis.

During a committee hearing last week, Democrats questioned the breadth of the proposal and Republicans generally expressed support. 

The full story on this legislation can be found in the Gongwer Ohio Report from May 12.

OHFA Urges Suspension of Rent Increases in Housing Projects During Pandemic

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) has strongly encouraged owners and management companies of housing projects financed in whole or in part by OHFA to suspend all rent increases while Governor DeWine’s COVID-19 State of Emergency or the President’s Major Disaster Declaration remain in effect.  

The request to suspend rent increases is a suggestion and is not required. Ultimately owners still have the right to increase rents in accordance with existing OHFA policy and federal regulations. While some states are prohibiting rent increases outright or tying to future points in the QAP process, OHFA felt this was a more reasonable path that would encourage owners not to increase rents to offset the loss of tenant receivables.

Ohio Renal Association Thanks LeadingAge Ohio

Last week, the Ohio Renal Association, which advocates for the particular problems and needs of ESRD patients and the providers of their care, submitted a letter to LeadingAge Ohio and the Ohio Health Care Association to thank both associations for opening dialogue on best practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As stated in the letter:

"We appreciate your willingness to open a dialogue among the associations in order to best serve our common patients.

We think it was a productive discussion of how patients can be best served including those who are COVID-19 positive, Patients Under Investigation, and those who have not been infected.  We were able to jointly share how we are all keeping patients safe and implementing best practices."

This is an example of how associations within aging and healthcare can be working with one another right now. We hope to continue these kinds of partnerships as we continue to adapt to this "new reality" over the next year. 

Ohio Statistics: 28,454 Cases, 1,657 Deaths

There are 28,454 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,657 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 4,998 people have been hospitalized, including 1,328 admissions to intensive care units. 

In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov

Questions

Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org. Additionally, members are encouraged to visit the LeadingAge Ohio COVID-19 Working Group facebook group to pose questions to peers and share best practices.

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Our national partner, LeadingAge, is an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Together, we advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.