CMS Steps Up Nursing Home COVID-19 Enforcement

June 2, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Monday announced steps it is taking to enhance enforcement for nursing homes with violations of longstanding infection control practices. CMS says it is increasing enforcement (e.g., civil money penalties) for facilities with persistent infection control violations, and imposing enforcement actions on lower level infection control deficiencies.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided additional funding to CMS for survey and certification work related to COVID-19. CMS will allocate the CARES Act funding to states based on performance-based metrics. States that have not completed 100% of focused infection control surveys of their nursing homes by July 31, 2020 will be required to submit a corrective action plan within 30 days. If, after the 30-day period, states have still not performed surveys in 100% of nursing homes, their CARES Act fiscal year 2021 allocation may be reduced by 10%.

As of May 24, about 12,500 nursing homes – approximately 80% of the 15,400 Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes – had reported the required data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These facilities reported over 60,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and almost 26,000 deaths. Of the nursing homes that reported data, approximately one in four facilities had at least one COVID-19 case, and approximately one in five facilities had at least one COVID-19 related death. CMS will post the underlying CDC-collected data on a link on Nursing Home Compare later this week, broken down by state, number of residents and number of staff, and searchable by facility name.

As of May 29, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health had reported that more than half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths (2,747) were in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.