The new rules require that nursing homes offer tests to patients if anyone in the facility contracts or exhibits symptoms. And in most cases, the nursing homes will be required to publicly report test results.
“These new rules represent a dramatic ramp-up in our efforts to track and control the spread of , especially in nursing homes,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.
One administration official was more blunt in describing the changes.
The coronavirus swept through Empire State nursing homes in March and April, killing at least 6,500 people. The true toll could be much higher, as some fatalities aren’t counted by the state — including residents transported to a hospital before their death.
An Associated Press analysis found that as many as 11,000 New York nursing home residents may have died.
Cuomo’s Health Department issued a controversial March 25 rule barring nursing homes from turning away coronavirus-positive patients, and his role in sending 6,300 infected people to nursing homes during the has been blamed in part for the higher death rate in New York.
An aggressive effort to get point-of-care testing — rapid tests that offer on-site results — in all nursing homes will provide the capability ahead of the fall flu season, administration officials said.
A fact sheet on the new rules seen by The Post says that “laboratories — including nursing homes using point-of-care testing devices — will be required to publicly report diagnostic test results and costs. The new rules also require hospitals to report cases and related data to the US Department of Health and Human Services.”
The document notes that the administration is “providing point-of-care testing devices and test kits to each of the Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes in the nation that received a Clinical Lab Improvement Amendments waiver to conduct low-complexity testing.” About 90 percent had a waiver as of last month, and the vast majority of US nursing homes are Medicare and/or Medicaid certified.
Staff working at nursing homes will also be subject to mandatory testing, but the criteria are yet to be determined.
A separate initiative rolling out this week from CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will offer training to nursing home staff, utilizing lessons learned by the agencies’ nursing home “strike teams” during the first wave of infections this year.
Nursing homes that do not comply with the new testing and disclosure rules will face financial penalties.
The governor is preparing to release a book he wrote about the pandemic. The book is titled “American Crisis” and will be released Oct. 13.