Archive April 2021

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FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

COVID-19 has brought overwhelming grief to many families, and FEMA is dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus. Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
There is a dedicated toll-free phone number listed below to get a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application completed with help from FEMA's representatives. Multilingual services will be available. You can also get answers to frequently asked questions about the application process and who is eligible on FEMA’s Funeral Assistance FAQ page.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number:
Applications begin on April 12, 2021
844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 9AM to 9PM Eastern Time

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National Liability Benchmark Study - Call for Data by 6/21/2021

AHCA recently announced that Marsh’s National Senior Care Practice and Oliver Wyman’s Actuarial Practice are conducting a 2021 update to their Professional and General Liability Benchmark Report for Long Term Care Providers.  
The information presented in this study is a critical component in various insurance industry initiatives and supports multiple state tort reform efforts. Especially relevant for 2021 will be the effect that the pandemic has had on losses. This benchmark study is also an important resource relied upon by insurance carriers, actuaries, and of course, long term care and senior living providers.
AHCA/MHCA hopes you will consider participating in this benchmark study to enhance the quality of this initiative. 
The information Marsh and Oliver Wyman are collecting includes: 
  • Individual claim listing (excluding Protected Health Information) in Excel-readable format valued as 12/31/2020.
  • ?Occupied bed equivalent exposure information for the past 10 calendar years, if available. 
Marsh will provide diagnostic information about your own data including various metrics, e.g., frequency and severity claim statistics; closing year, report year, and accident year statistics; open and closed claim statistics; and an exposure analysis. They will review the data diagnostics and contact you to discuss any potential anomalies.
As with the 2020 report, there is no cost to participate, and all participants will receive a copy of the report and an invitation to the presentation of the results. If you are interested in participating or have questions, please contact Oliver Wyman at before June 20, 2021.

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MHCA Offers Fire Marshal Town Hall: May 21, 2021

On March 17, 2021 CMS released updated guidance to expand the Emergency Preparedness Interpretive Guidelines of Appendix Z in response to adding “emerging infectious diseases” to the definition of all-hazards approach as CMS determined it was critical for facilities to include planning for infectious diseases within their emergency preparedness program. While the primary changes to Appendix Z focused on the changes as a result of the Burden Reduction Final Rule; CMS has also updated the guidance to reflect some of the following changes specific to long term care providers.
MHCA is excited to partner with members of the Maine Fire Marshal team to be able to provide homes an opportunity to hear how these changes to Appendix Z directly impact the emergency preparedness practices of each facility. This session will provide a brief introduction from the Maine Fire Marshal regarding the changes and then be followed by a panel question answer session. Participants will be able to submit questions directly to the panel for clarification on these changes.

Date of Event: May 21, 2021, 10:00-11:30am
This event will be held virtually. To register for this event click

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Have you registered your team for our upcoming educational programs?

In addition to our monthly eLearning program (for members), MHCA has several web-based programs planned for the spring/summer months that are open to both members and non-members. To make it easier to stay engaged online, these programs will be offered in shorter segments.
You can earn a certificate for participating (see Education Policies for details). Here's what we have planned so far: 
For details, click on the title above. To enroll, you must register online. Once you complete the form, a confirmation will be sent to the email you provided. To request a check from your facility (vs. processing your payment through PayPal), please use the confirmation email to invoice your facility. Payment is due at least one week prior to the event.   
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TIP SHEET AVAILABLE: 10-144 CMR Ch. 264 Immunization Requirements for Healthcare Workers

Last week changes were made to 10-144 CMR Ch. 264 which impacts member facility immunization requirements for Healthcare Workers. These changes went into effect on April 12, 2021. In response, MHCA has created a new Regulatory Spotlight Tip Sheet to help facilities ensure compliance with these new requirements. 

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Updated Guidance Released on Testing, Visitation, and Activities

On Tuesday April 27, 2021 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance for long term facilities in response to COVID-19 vaccination. The following key changes have now been made:
  • Residents and visitors may visit without distancing and source control masks if alone in the resident’s room and the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated. If the visitor is not vaccinated, they can visit with a fully vaccinated resident alone in the resident’s room without distancing while wearing well-fitting source control masks.
  • Communal dining and activities may occur without physical distancing if all residents are vaccinated.
  • Vaccinated health care personnel no longer need to undergo routine testing, but should continue to be tested after exposure, during an outbreak, or if experiencing symptoms.
AHCA/NCAL has provided a detailed summary of these updates.

The new guidance can be found here:
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Essential Caregiver bill rejected by HHS Committee

This afternoon (April 22), the Legislature’s Health & Human Services Committee unanimously voted “Ought Not to Pass” on LD 1139, An Act to Authorize and Regulate Visitation of Essential Caregivers at Long Term Care Facilities.  The bill would have prevented facilities from barring visitors under almost all circumstances.  MHCA was joined by the DHHS Division of Licensing in opposing the bill.  Contradictions with federal regulations and risk of losing federal Medicaid funds were cited as reasons to oppose.  The unanimous committee vote essentially kills the bill for the legislative session.  

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Nurse education bill sails through committee

The Legislature’s Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee voted unanimously last week to support the Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment legislation.  The Committee voted in favor of an amended version of the bill that lowered the loan caps to $20,000 for MSN and $40,000 for a doctoral degree.  The amendment kept funding at $1 million and several other changes made to the loan repayment program.  MHCA testified in favor of the bill as a way to increase the number of nursing school faculty members.
The Legislature will convene next week to hold full session at the Augusta Civic Center.  With a unanimous committee vote, the chances are excellent that the House and Senate will both approve the bill.  With widespread support from several health sectors, we are optimistic that the bill will receive necessary funding.

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CMS Adds New Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Services to Medicare Part B Telehealth Codes List

CMS recently posted updates to the List of Telehealth Services for Calendar Year 2021.? This update includes several new services that can be furnished by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists when furnished via telecommunications technology during the current COVID-19 public health emergency.      

Attached to today’s E-News are the Current Procedural Terminology codes now included on the Medicare telehealth services list for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional Medicare telehealth coverage and coding guidance during the COVID-19 PHE can be found in the following locations: 
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Medicare Sequestration Relief Extended Through End of the Year

President Biden recently signed legislation that extends Medicare sequestration relief through the end of the year. We expect CMS to resume issuing claims shortly. Last year, recognizing the challenges facing the provider community during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Congress suspended “Medicare sequestration” that would typically take two percent out of all Medicare fee-for-service claim payments, as well as payments to Medicare Advantage and Part D programs. Essentially, the relief gave Medicare providers and plans a temporary two percent raise. 

The relief originally extended through the end of the year. In last year’s end-of-year appropriations package, Congress extended the relief through the end of March 2020. Toward the end of March last year, the Senate passed legislation that would extend the relief through the end of 2020. Earlier this month, the House cleared the Senate’s bill extending sequestration relief through the end of 2021 and the President quickly signed the bill

It is expected that CMS will? resume processing Medicare claims, at amounts reflecting the Congressionally-mandated relief, very soon. For providers and Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, the two percent sequestration relief remains in effect through the end of 2021.

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