On April 24, CMS issued a memo (QSO-20-28-NH) regarding Nursing Home Five Star Rating System updates, staffing data and frequently asked questions. In this memo, they announced that the health inspection domain of the five-star rating system will temporarily be frozen. Results of health inspections conducted on or after March 4, 2020 will be posted on Nursing Home Compare, but will not be used in the calculation of health inspection ratings. Even though CMS has waived timeframe requirements for submitting MDS and Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) staffing data, the quality measure and staffing domains of the five-star rating system will be updated on the April 29, 2020 scheduled update of the Nursing Home Compare website because the data used for the calculation of those domains is based on time periods prior to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency being declared. Future updates to Nursing Home Compare may require adjustments to the staffing and quality measure domain, due to the current waived timeframe requirements.
In the memo, CMS also announced that they are releasing information that shows the average number of staff each nursing home has onsite, each day, and aggregated by state and nationally to help support local, state, and federal agencies’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This information will include facilities’ average census per day and total beds. The information is based on data submitted for calendar quarter 4 of 2019. This information may be used by state agencies to help direct how and where personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing is needed within the state.
The memo also includes frequently asked questions (FAQs) to clarify guidance and provide additional information related to CMS guidance on visitation and individuals entering and leaving nursing homes; prioritization of survey activities; COVID-19 guidance to state and local governments, and nursing homes, and waivers of federal requirements, including telehealth and cohorting.