To: Mass Senior Care Members
From: Tara Gregorio, President
Re: COVID-19 Updates: March 30, 2020 | Onsite COVID-19 Testing, MassHealth Update on Coverage and N95 Fit Testing Guidance
Date: March 30, 2020
Today we are providing you with several updates related to onsite COVID-19 testing programs in nursing homes and rest homes, MassHealth update on coverage and N95 fit testing guidance. Please continue to visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage for resources and updates.
Onsite COVID-19 Testing Program in Nursing Homes and Rest Homes
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the Massachusetts National Guard, and the State Public Health Laboratory in conjunction with the Broad Institute of Cambridge are launching a new testing program in nursing homes and rest homes to allow for in-facility testing of residents with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The Department has provided the following information, “Program Overview and Goals and What You and Your Staff Need to Know to Participate” in this in-facility testing and the COVID-19 Submission Form.
Please contact Ed Taglieri at the DPH, Bureau of Health Professions Licensure with any questions.
MassHealth Update on Coverage of Quarantined Members and MLOA
MassHealth has issued updated LTSS Provider Information guidance (3-27-20) related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) which outlines certain flexibilities that MassHealth is implementing.
For nursing facilities, the guidance includes information related to (1) quarantined Medicaid members who cannot be safely discharged and (2) temporary lifting of the 20-day limit for paid Medical Leave of Absence:
- Coverage of COVID-19 Quarantine in a Nursing Facility - There may be instances in which Nursing Facilities will need to quarantine Members infected with COVID-19 for public health reasons or otherwise cannot safely discharge a Member due to COVID-19 exposure or risk, even though these Members may no longer require a Nursing Facility level of care. MassHealth will pay Nursing Facilities for Members no longer requiring a Nursing Facility level of care but who must be quarantined in the facility or otherwise cannot be safely discharged due to COVID-19. The guidance specifies the steps on what facilities should execute in order be paid by MassHealth. Please go to page 16 and page 17 of the 3-27-20 Guidance.
- Medical Leave of Absence Bed-Hold Days - Notwithstanding the limits described in MassHealth Nursing Facility Bulletins 138 and 139, MassHealth is temporarily lifting the 20-day limit for paid Medical Leave of Absence bed-hold days in cases where Members may not be safely discharged back to the Nursing Facility or must be safely quarantined due to COVID-19. All such instances must be clearly documented in the Member’s record.
N95 Fit Testing Guidance
OSHA and the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have temporarily lifted the requirement that surveyors validate the facility’s last annual test of the fit of N95 respirator work by health care personnel. DPH has issued a memo and has adopted OSHA and CMS’s guidance for health care facilities to suspend their annual fit testing programs until the State of Emergency is terminated by the Governor, or until rescinded by the Commissioner of Public Health, whichever shall happen first, in order to conserve personal protective equipment.