Skilled Nursing Facility

New LTC vaccine rules from CMS should be on your radar

CMS has released an interim final rule that sets COVID-19 vaccine requirements for long-term care (LTC) facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICFs-IID).

The changes to the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for those facilities primarily require vaccines to be offered to residents, clients and staff when available. They also set education and CDC reporting requirements.

While the rule covers only those two types of facilities so far, CMS notes in the rule it may want to expand those requirements to other healthcare organizations. The regulations are effective May 21.

In announcing the interim rule, CMS noted that to “ensure LTC facilities receive support for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, they are now required to report weekly vaccination data of residents and staff to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the nation’s most widely used healthcare-associated infection tracking system.”  

“LTC facilities are already required to report COVID-19 testing, case, and mortality data to the NHSN for residents and staff, but have not been required to report vaccination data. As data becomes available, CMS will post facility-specific vaccination status information reported to the NHSN for viewing by facilities, stakeholders, and the public on CMS’ COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.”

CMS’ Quality Safety and Oversight (QSO) Group has also published a new memo, QSO-21-19-NH, for state survey agencies saying surveyor tools to assess compliance with the new rule have already been updated with the new expectations.

Those expectations include “new requirements for educating residents or resident representatives and staff regarding the benefits and potential side effects associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, and offering the vaccine,” said the memo.

“Transparency: CMS will post the new information reported to the NHSN for viewing by facilities, stakeholders, or the general public on CMS’s COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website,” told surveyors.

“Noncompliance related to the new requirements for educating and offering COVID-19 vaccination to residents and staff will be cited at F-tag 887, and noncompliance related to COVID-19 vaccination reporting will be cited at F-tag 884.”

The QSO memo also offers information to surveyors on vaccine administration, vaccine refusal and documentation, as well as a list of online resources for additional information.

A.J. Plunkett is editor of Inside Accreditation & Quality, a Simplify Compliance publication.