COVID-19 Impacts Medicare for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs)”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and the Trump Administration are reducing certain regulatory requirements for Medicare and Medicaid to better help medical providers and states respond to and stop the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). This is in response to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19 on March 13th. Specifically, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now allowed to waive certain program requirements for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Below are some of the Medicare regulations that are being eased to better help Skilled Nursing Facilities and other medical providers combat the pandemic:

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities a/k/a Skilled Nursing Homes – CMS is waiving the requirement that a patient be admitted to a hospital for at least 3 days before covering skilled services or rehabilitation in a Skilled Nursing Facility. Normally for Medicare to cover a stay at a Skilled Nursing Facility, the patient must have been admitted in the hospital for at least 3 days. So, for patients who need a temporary, emergency stay in the Skilled Nursing Facility as a result of the disaster, they do not have to first go to the hospital and be admitted. Also, CMS is authorizing coverage for Skilled Nursing Facilities for patients who have exhausted their coverage. Currently, Medicare only covers the first 100 days of a stay at a Skilled Nursing Facility, even if the patient still needs more skilled care or rehab.
  • PASSR –  Currently all patients who are admitted to a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) must first have a Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) Level 1 and sometimes a PASRR Level 2 screening performed in order to rule out that patients with either suspected mental illness or intellectual disabilities are not inappropriately placed in a SNF. Both the Level 1 and Level 2 PASRR screenings are waived for 30 days. After 30 days from now, any new person who is suspected of having a mental illness or intellectual disabilities should receive a review as soon as resources are available. Another change is that a new PASRR Level 1 or Level 2 screening will not be required for residents who are transferring between SNFs.
  • Telehealth – Medicare will now temporarily pay medical clinicians to provide telehealth services for people on Medicare. Normally, Medicare only pays for telehealth services in certain circumstances; like when the patient lives in a rural area. Also, normally the patient cannot receive telehealth services at home. Now many different types of medical providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologies, licensed clinical social workers, will be able to provide telehealth videos to patients in physicians’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, rural health clinics, and at the patient’s home. The services include common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventative health screenings.

As always, we are here to help during difficult times.

Tags: Medicare, COVID-19, Corona.

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