On May 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) issued a memo, Interim Final Rule Updating Requirements for Notification of Confirmed and Suspected COVID-19 Cases Among Residents and Staff in Nursing Homes, regarding the new requirement on reporting COVID-19 cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Included in this new requirement is the reporting of new cases to residents, family members and resident representatives.
Nursing facilities are required to update the information in the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) at least weekly beginning the week ending May 17, 2020. Facilities must follow the guidance on the release to submit data. For help in setting-up registration and using the NHSN, click here.
There will be a grace period of two weeks given to facilities for reporting. If the third week data is not submitted in NHSN, a letter of warning will be sent to those nursing facilities affected. Data not submitted during the fourth week will result in a $1,000 penalty. For each additional week of data not submitted, a $500 penalty increase for that week will be assessed. For example, the fourth week without data submission will result in a $1,000 penalty, and the fifth week would result in a $1,500 penalty, for a total penalty of $2,500.
Per the issued memo, facilities that fail to report data will also receive a citation under F-884, COVID-19 Reporting to CDC, with a scope and severity code of an F which indicates “no actual harm with a potential for more than minimal harm that is not an Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) and that is widespread.”
For facilities that fail to report a verified COVID-19 diagnosis of a resident or staff member to its residents, their representative and family members will be cited for the new F-885 tag. This will be included in the “COVID-19 Focused Survey Protocol” and subject to state and/or federal surveys.
Although there are already state and local reporting requirements in place, this new reporting requirement is necessary to track the virus on a national level with consistent data and definitions across the country. To ease the burden, the CDC will allow state agencies to submit batch data files for facilities, but it is still the facility’s responsibility to verify data is being submitted.