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Advancing Care through Innovation, Observation and Collaboration.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to devastate U.S. nursing homes. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing are critical to protect nursing home residents and staff during future COVID-19 outbreaks. This paper presents results from a new national database containing 98% of U.S. nursing home that confirm staffing and PPE supplies were severely inadequate and recommends policies aimed at providing resources to obtain additional direct care staff and PPE to these vulnerable nursing homes, particularly in areas with rising community COVID-19 case rates, to reduce the future COVID-19 death toll.The COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate U.S. nursing homes.

Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and staffing are critical to protect nursing home residents and staff during future COVID-19 outbreaks. Despite the importance of these basic measures, little national data is available about the state of nursing homes with respect to these resources. To learn more, read the full report in Health Affairs here.

Other Updates:

Racial Disparities in COVID-19: Key Findings

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been growing confirmation of the disproportionate impacts on people of color, particularly as availability of data to understand racial disparities has increased. Kaiser released a brief summarizes key findings from data and analyses examining COVID-19 related cases, deaths, hospitalizations, and testing by race and ethnicity as of early August 2020 to provide additional data on these disparities. (See full brief here).

COVID-19 Surges Back into Nursing Homes in Coronavirus Hot Spots

Not surprisingly given the above updates, it is reported in The Washington Post that Federal data cited by two long-term care associations this week show that the number of new cases in nursing homes bottomed out at 5,468 during the week of June 21 and has climbed steadily upward to 8,628 for the week of July 19, the last week available. That is a 58 percent increase that roughly parallels the rise in U.S. cases overall during that time. To learn more, click here.

Living at Home in Rural America: Improving Accessibility for Older Adults and People with a Disability

Yesterday, August 19, CMS issued a Joint Informational Bulletin with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and three HHS agencies— ACL, CDC, and HRSA. The bulletin shares information on existing federal resources, programs, and initiatives intended to improve home safety and accessibility for older adults and people with disabilities living in rural areas.

The bulletin does not issue any new guidance, but does include information on current resources and programs across HHS, HUD, and USDA.  Additionally, the bulletin supports CMS’ Rural Health Strategy, an initiative launched in 2018 to improve health care in rural America by leveraging collaborative partnerships on the federal, regional, state, and local levels.

CMS Releases New Guidance on State Medicaid Agencies Adoption of Interoperability Final Rule

CMS released new guidance for state health officers on the implementation of the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access final rule in compliance with the ONC 21st Century Cures Act final rule. The CMS Interoperability and Patient Access final rule aims to advance interoperability for Medicaid and CHIP providers as well as improve beneficiaries’ access to their data. The guidance clarifies the new requirements for Medicaid and CHIP entities. Requirements include the need to implement a standards-based Patient Access API, coordinate data exchange between payers, provide current provider directory information through a Provider Directory API, and exchange data with CMS daily on dual-eligible beneficiaries. The guidance also recommends states review the Office of National Coordinator’s 21st Century Cures Act final rule on information blocking.

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