CMS emphasizes the importance of coronavirus testing in nursing homes
With state and federal crackdowns, LTC providers prepare for battle
Across the nation, more and more surveyors are demanding evidence that facilities are not only testing their symptomatic residents, but also isolating them as they await results. Not to mention, states like California and West Virginia have already implemented rules stating that all residents and staff must be tested for COVID-19.
Experts say it’s only a matter of time before your longterm care facility could be inspected for testing compliance.
How to access testing
While many facilities have already enacted widespread coronavirus testing, others may find themselves underprepared in the event of a state crackdown. If you had to test all residents and staff tomorrow, would you have the supplies in place? And, if a surveyor requested evidence of testing, would you have supporting documentation on hand?
If your facility has yet to be affected by COVID-19, leaders say you should still reach out. “First contact your local or
state health department to seek availability to access testing,” read a public notice from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. “States with state-wide orders to test may have preferred vendors or specific guidance on testing protocols.
Document your communication and the steps you take as a result. In absence of direction from the local or state health department, facilities can refer to AHCA/NCAL’s list of vendors .”
Prioritization is paramount
State and local testing requirements vary. Still, experts agree that adequate preparation includes knowledge of best prioritization practices. From there, providers should investigate the associated costs of testing and set a plan for what to do in the event that a resident or staff member’s test comes back positive.
On the subject of cost, McKnight’s contributor Danielle Brown notes that “testing labs will bill Medicare directly, so providers should ensure the lab they’re receiving tests from will bill the program.” If the lab cannot bill Medicare, you may be responsible for costs up front. According to AHCA/NCAL, tests range from $115 to $500, while Medicare Part B only reimburses $51 (for the PCR) and $35 (for other tests).
We encourage our partners to take an aggressive approach to resident monitoring. As state and federal regulators strive to flatten the curve within the LTC community, we must do everything we can to support their efforts and protect each other.