April 30, 2020

CMS Rule Will Require SNFs to Inform Residents and Representatives of COVID-19 Cases

On April 19, a Memorandum from CMS informed skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) that it intends to require SNFs to notify their residents and representatives of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nursing home. This notice will be in addition to currently required reports of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases to state or local health departments. At a minimum, the proposed rule will require SNFs to notify residents and representatives within 12 hours of the occurrence of a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or notification if three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occur within 72 hours. The notice must also include information on mitigation actions implemented to prevent transmission, and describe if and how normal operations will be altered. In providing the notice, SNFs should carefully review the rule and HIPAA requirements to ensure compliance with existing privacy regulations. CMS has also indicated it may bring an enforcement action against SNFs that fail to comply after rulemaking is complete.