BREAKING NEWS: Update to COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Specific Providers

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

Just a few minutes this morning (April 7, 2022), CMS issued QSO-22-15-NH & NLTC & LSC.

CMS is ending the specific emergency declaration blanket waivers for SNFs/NFs, inpatient hospices, ICF/IIDs and ESRD facilities listed below. The termination of these blanket waivers will have no effect on other blanket waivers that remain in place such as those for hospitals and CAHs. Those blanket waivers remain in effect to assist hospitals and CAHs, among others, in dealing with their response to the surges of COVID-19 cases in the community. Providers are expected to take immediate steps so that they may return to compliance with the reinstated requirements according to the timeframes listed below. We also recommend that providers continue to follow CDC guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19 especially during activities that may increase patient or resident contact. For additional information on individual waivers or flexibilities providers can apply for, please visit the Coronavirus waivers & flexibilities Coronavirus waivers & flexibilities webpage.

Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers Ending for SNF/NFs 30 Days from Publication of this Memorandum:

  • Resident Groups – 42 CFR §483.10(f)(5)
    • CMS waived the requirements which ensure residents can participate in-person in resident groups. This waiver permitted the facility to restrict in-person meetings during the COVID-19 PHE.
  • Physician Delegation of Tasks in SNFs – 42 CFR §483.30(e)(4)
    • CMS waived the requirement that prevents a physician from delegating a task when the regulations specify that the physician must perform it personally. This waiver gave physicians the ability to delegate any tasks to a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist, but specified that any task delegated under this waiver must continue to be under the supervision of the physician.
  • Physician Visits – 42 CFR §483.30(c)(3)
    • CMS waived the requirement that all required physician visits (not already exempted in §483.30(c)(4) and (f)) must be made by the physician personally. The waiver modified this provision to permit physicians to delegate any required physician visit to a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or clinical nurse specialist who is not an employee of the facility, who is working in collaboration with a physician, and who is licensed by the State and performing within the state’s scope-of-practice laws.
  • Physician Visits in Skilled Nursing Facilities/Nursing Facilities – 42 CFR §483.30
    • CMS waived the requirement for physicians and non-physician practitioners to perform in-person visits for nursing home residents and allow visits to be conducted, as appropriate, via telehealth options.
  • Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) – 42 CFR §483.75(b)–(d) and (e)(3)
    • CMS modified certain requirements which require long-term care facilities to develop, implement, evaluate, and maintain an effective, comprehensive, data driven QAPI program. This waiver gave providers the ability to focus on adverse events and infection control, and those aspects of care delivery most closely associated with COVID-19 during the PHE.
  • Detailed Information Sharing for Discharge Planning for Long-Term Care (LTC) Facilities – 42 CFR §483.21(c)(1)(viii)
    • CMS waived the discharge planning requirement which requires LTC facilities to assist residents and their representatives in selecting a post-acute care provider using data, such as standardized patient assessment data, quality measures and resource use. CMS maintained all other discharge planning requirements.
  • Clinical Records – 42 CFR §483.10(g)(2)(ii)
    • CMS modified the requirement which requires long-term care (LTC) facilities to provide a resident a copy of their records within two working days (when requested by the resident).

Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers For Various Provider-Types Ending 60 Days from Publication of this Memorandum:

  • Physical Environment for SNF/NFs – 42 CFR §483.90
    • CMS waived requirements to allow for a non-SNF building to be temporarily certified and available for use by a SNF in the event there were needs for isolation processes for COVID-19 positive residents, which may not be feasible in the existing SNF structure to ensure care and services during treatment for COVID19, provided that the state has approved the location as one that sufficiently addresses safety and comfort for patients and staff.
    • Certain conditions of participation and certification requirements for opening a NF if the state determines there is a need to quickly stand up a temporary COVID-19 isolation and treatment location.
    • Requirements to temporarily allow for rooms in a long-term care facility not normally used as a resident’s room, to be used to accommodate beds and residents for resident care in emergencies and situations needed to help with surge capacity.
  • Equipment Maintenance & Fire Safety Inspections for ESRD facilities – 42 CFR §494.60(b) and(d)
    • CMS waived the requirement for on-time preventive maintenance of dialysis machines and ancillary dialysis equipment. Additionally, CMS waived the requirements for ESRD facilities to conduct on-time fire inspections.
  • Facility and Medical Equipment Inspection, Testing & Maintenance (ITM) for Inpatient Hospice, ICF/IIDs and SNFs/NFs – 42 CFR §§418.110(c)(2)(iv), 483.470(j), and 483.90
    • CMS waived ITM requirements for facility and medical equipment to reduce disruption of patient care and potential exposure/transmission of COVID-19.
  • Life Safety Code (LSC) and Health Care Facilities Code (HCFC) ITM for Inpatient Hospice, ICF/IIDs and SNFs/NFs – 42 CFR §§ 418.110(d)(1)(i) and (e), 483.470(j)(1)(i) and (5)(v), and 483.90(a)(1)(i) and (b)
    • CMS waived ITM required by the LSC and HCFC, with specified exceptions, which permitted facilities to adjust scheduled ITM frequencies and activities to the extent necessary.
  • Outside Windows and Doors for Inpatient Hospice, ICF/IIDs and SFNs/NFs – 42 CFR §§418.110(d)(6), 483.470(e)(1)(i), and 483.90(a)(7)
    • CMS waived the requirement to have an outside window or outside door in every sleeping room. This permitted spaces not normally used for patient care to be utilized for patient care and quarantine.
  • Life Safety Code for Inpatient Hospice, ICF/IIDs, and SNFs/NFs – 42 CFR §§418.110(d), 483.470(j), and 483.90(a)
    • CMS waived these specific LSC provisions:
      • Fire Drills: Due to the inadvisability of quarterly fire drills that move and mass staff together, CMS permitted a documented orientation training program related to the current fire plan, which considered current facility conditions.
      • Temporary Construction: CMS waived requirements that would otherwise not permit temporary walls and barriers between patients.
  • Paid Feeding Assistants for LTC facilities – 42 CFR §§483.60(h)(1)(i) and 483.160(a)
    • CMS modified the requirements regarding required training of paid feeding assistants to allow that training can be a minimum of one hour in length. CMS did not waive other requirements related to paid feeding assistants or required training content.
  • In-Service Training for LTC facilities – 42 CFR §483.95(g)(1)
    • CMS modified the nurse aide training requirements for SNFs and NFs, which required the nursing assistant to receive at least 12 hours of in-service training annually.
  • Training and Certification of Nurse Aides for SNF/NFs – 42 CFR §483.35(d) (Modification and Conditional Termination)
    • CMS waived the requirements which require that a SNF and NF may not employ anyone for longer than four months unless they met the training and certification requirements under §483.35(d). CMS previously provided information related to nurse aides working under this blanket waiver in CMS memorandum QSO-21-17- NH. This memo provides additional information as well on the modification of this waiver below.

Contact: for questions related to nursing homes; for questions related to physical environment and life safety code. Effective Date: The emergency declaration blanket waivers identified above will end according to the timeframes described in this memorandum.

Please review this QSO Memorandum thoroughly with your team. Share this information with your colleagues.

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