On April 30, 2020 President Trump announced the formation of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) independent commission, or nursing home task force, officially known as the Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes . This effort builds upon CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s five-part plan to ensure safety and quality in America’s nursing homes.
While the federal response to nursing home needs has thus far been left wanting, the new task force is charged to comprehensively assess nursing home response to COVID-19, identify best practices, and provide independent recommendations to further protect nursing home residents while providing the highest quality of life. (See the CMS press release and the Whitehouse briefing fact sheet for more detail.)
The commission is expected to first meet in late May and develop recommendations on three key tasks:
- Putting nursing home residents first by ensuring they are protected from COVID-19 and improving the responsiveness of care delivery to maximize the quality of life for residents.
- Strengthening efforts to enable rapid and effective identification and mitigation of COVID-19 transmission (and other infectious disease) in nursing homes; and
- Enhancing strategies to improve compliance with infection control policies in response to COVID-19.
Furthermore, Under the direction of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, nursing home response will be further bolstered by a much-needed influx of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In addition to the supplies already distributed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be sending supplemental shipments PPE to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes in America . Two, separate packages containing a seven-day supply of eye protection, masks, gowns, and gloves will be provided to each facility “no later than July 4,” according to agency Administrator Peter Gaynor. Quantities shipped will be based on staffing and PPE usage (burn) rates.