• Five-Star Technical User's Guide Plus Claims-Based Measures Appendix (1/21)

    By CMS - January 18, 2021

    CMS created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily. The Nursing Home Compare Web site features a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating of between 1 and 5 stars. Nursing homes with 5 stars are considered to have much above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average. This manual provides in-depth descriptions of the ratings and the methods used to calculate them. 

    On December 1, 2020 the Nursing Home Compare website was retired. It has been replaced by the new Care Compare website. Care Compare can be accessed at: (https://www.medicare.gov/care-compare/). The Provider Data Catalog (PDC) located at https://data.cms.gov/provider-data/ allows users to search and download the publicly reported data. While this Technical Users’ Guide has been revised to refer to Care Compare, there may be previously published materials or documents that refer to Nursing Home Compare and all prior references to Nursing Home Compare will now apply to Care Compare.


    January 2021 Revisions


    Health Inspection Rating Changes:

    Beginning with the January 2021 refresh, CMS resumed calculating the health inspection rating domain and began to use results from surveys that occurred after March 3, 2020. Additionally, focused infection control surveys are included in the rating calculation, with citations from these surveys counting towards the total weighted health inspection score (similar to how complaint survey citations are counted).

    These changes resulted in updates to the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, including updates to SFF candidates, and facilities’ status for receiving an icon for noncompliance related to abuse. Specifically, updates to the health inspection data due to the incorporation of surveys occurring after March 3, 2020 and the updating of the complaint periods means that the abuse icon will be removed for facilities that no longer meet the abuse icon criteria based on more recent survey findings. Once facilities no longer meet criteria for the abuse icon, their health inspection rating will no longer be capped at two stars. More information on the abuse icon is found in the Health Inspection section of this document.

    Staffing Rating Changes:

    Beginning with the January 2021 refresh, facilities that did not report staffing for the November 14, 2020 deadline or that reported four or more days in the quarter with no registered nurse will have their staffing ratings suppressed. Their staffing ratings will show “Not Available” with the January, February, and March refreshes. Starting with the April 2021 refresh of Care Compare, when staffing data submitted by the February 14, 2021 deadline will be reported and used for the five-star ratings, nursing homes that do not report staffing data for October – December 2020 or that report four or more days in the quarter with no registered nurse will have their staffing ratings reduced to one star.


    Quality Measure Rating Changes:

    Quarterly updates of most of the quality measures (QMs) posted on Care Compare and used in the FiveStar Quality Rating System resumed with the January 2021 refresh. For the January 2021 update, CMS used data for July 2019- June 2020 for all of the measures that were updated. The two QMs that are part of the Skilled Nursing Facility Quality Reporting Program (Percentage of SNF residents with pressure ulcers/pressure injuries that are new or worsened and Rate of successful return to home and community from a SNF) will not be updated in January 2021.

    January 2020 addition: Technical specifications for claims-based measures

    Read more
  • Patterns in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities in 2020: Kaiser Family Foundation Review (1/21)

    By Kaiser Family Foundation - January 18, 2021

    For some regions of the country, recent months have brought the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities since the start of the pandemic, a new KFF analysis of state-reported cases and death shows, underscoring the importance of current efforts to vaccinate this high priority group. A second, related analysis synthesizes the findings of 30 studies that examined potential factors associated with COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.

    KFF held a web briefing yesterday to review this latest data on COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities and examine how the effort to vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care settings is going, challenges experienced so far, and opportunities for improvement. 

    Read more
  • OIG to Look at Medicare Part D Payments in SNF Stays and Nursing Home Background Checks (1/21)

    By OIG - January 15, 2021

    Medicare Part D Payments During Covered Part A SNF Stay

    Medicare Part A prospective payments to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) cover most services, including drugs and biologicals furnished by the SNF for use in the facility for the care and treatment of beneficiaries. Accordingly, Medicare Part D drug plans should not pay for prescription drugs related to posthospital SNF care because these drugs are already included in the consolidated payment for Part A SNF stays. We will determine whether Medicare Part D paid for drugs that should have been paid under Part A SNF stays.


    Announced or Revised



    Report Number(s)

    Expected Issue Date (FY)

    January 2021

    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

    Medicare Part D Payments During Covered Part A SNF Stay




    Background Checks for Nursing Home Employees

    Federal regulation 42 CFR 483.12(a)(3) provides beneficiaries who rely on long-term care services with protection from abuse, neglect, and theft by preventing prospective employees with disqualifying offenses from being employed by these care providers and facilities. The National Background Check Program was enacted by legislation in 2010 to assist States in developing and improving systems for conducting Federal and State background checks. Prior OIG work has shown that not all States complied with the National Background Check Program for Long-Term Care Providers. We will determine whether Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing homes in selected States were adequately safeguarded from caregivers with a criminal history of abuse, neglect, exploitation, mistreatment of residents, or misappropriation of resident property, according to Federal requirements. 


    Announced or Revised



    Report Number(s)

    Expected Issue Date (FY)

    January 2021

    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

    Background Checks for Nursing Home Employees






    Read more
  • The importance of device selection, education, and training for appropriate and effective inhalation therapy in COPD

    By Shahin Sanjar, PhD., Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. - January 13, 2021

    Inhalation treatment of respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD is the predominant mode of therapy for the simple and logical reason that applying pharmacological agents to the target organ reduces the drug dose, maintains good efficacy, as well as reduces potential systemic adverse effects. To this end, there are now multiple systems for delivering therapeutic agents either as single or fixed dose combinations of two or three agents. The focus of this article is on the delivery devices and potential challenges with multiple device options rather than the therapeutic agents. It is important to recognize that even the best therapeutic agents cannot be effective unless they are delivered to the correct target organ or site. 

    Given the wealth of treatment and delivery options, it is surprising that treatment of COPD remains less than optimal and reported rates of device use errors remain high (Sanchis J et al. 2016, Molimard et al. 2017). This topic has been broadly discussed in the latest Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD 2021) report, with an emphasis on effective training and appropriate device selection for COPD patients. In a recent study, only 23% of patients discharged from the hospital demonstrated appropriate use of dry powder inhalers (Sulaiman et al. 2017). It is important to note that despite significant improvements in device design and a greater understanding of drug delivery issues, such as aerodynamics of particle flow as well as optimal particle size for pulmonary delivery, device error rates have remained high for decades (Sanchis et al. 2016). It is now well-recognized that education and training are key components of proper inhaler use, which requires regular assessment and the implementation of the “teach back” method (Dantic 2014). The importance of continued assessment is highlighted by the observation that the training effect does not persist (Press et al. 2016).

    Read more
  • Section M: Skin Conditions - Assessment and Coding of Pressure Ulcers/Injuries: CMS Web-Based Training (1/21)

    By MX - January 13, 2021
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering a web-based training course that provides an overview of the assessment and coding of pressure ulcers/injuries. This 90-minute course is intended for providers in Home Health Agencies (HHAs), Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs), Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs), and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), and is designed to be used on demand anywhere you can access a browser.
    Read more
  • Cross-Setting QRP Data Elements and Quality Measures: CMS Web-Based Training (1/21)

    By CMS - January 13, 2021

    From Data Elements to Quality Measures – Cross-Setting QRP Web-Based Training

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering a web-based training course that provides a high-level overview of how data elements within CMS patient/resident assessment instruments are used to construct quality measures (QMs) across post-acute care (PAC) settings. The PAC settings included are those covered under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Reporting Programs (QRPs) for Home Health Agencies (HHAs), Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs), Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs) and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs). Information covered will include a short review of the QRPs’ cross-setting quality measures (QM), how data elements feed into these cross-setting QMs, how QMs are calculated and appear on QM reports and how to access and use this data for quality improvement. 

    Read more
  • Contract Year 2022 Medicare Advantage and Part D Final Rule (1/21)

    By CMS - January 13, 2021

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that further advances the agency’s efforts to strengthen and modernize the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs. The changes finalized today are generally effective for the 2022 plan year and will potentially lower enrollee cost sharing on some of the most expensive prescription drugs. This final rule will allow enrollees to know in advance and compare their out-of-pocket payments for different prescription drugs. The changes will result in an estimated $75.4 million in savings to the federal government over ten years.

    “The changes in this final rule provide desperately needed transparency on the out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs that have been obscured for seniors,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “It will strengthen Part D plans’ negotiating power with prescription drug manufacturers so American patients can get a better deal.”

    As part of the administration’s commitment to promoting price transparency and lowering prescription drug prices, the final rule will require Part D plans to offer a real-time benefit comparison tool starting January 1, 2023, so enrollees can obtain information about lower-cost alternative therapies under their prescription drug benefit plan. Enrollees would be able to compare cost sharing to find the most cost-effective prescription drugs for their health needs. For example, if a doctor recommends a specific cholesterol-lowering drug, the enrollee could look up what the co-pay would be and see if a different, similarly effective option might save the enrollee money. With this tool, enrollees will be better able to know what they will need to pay before they are standing at the pharmacy counter. This follows a similar CMS requirement that Part D plans support a prescriber real-time drug benefit tool that went into effect January 1, 2021. Congress codified a similar requirement for prescriber real-time benefit tools in the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law No. 116-260).

    In the Medicare Part D program, enrollees choose the prescription drug plan that best meets their needs. Many plans offering prescription drug coverage place drugs into different “tiers” on their formularies. Today, all drugs on a plan’s specialty tier – the tier that has the highest-cost drugs – have the same level of cost sharing. Under the final rule, CMS is allowing Part D plans to have a second, “preferred” specialty tier with a lower cost sharing level than their other specialty tier. This change gives Part D plans more tools to negotiate better deals with manufacturers on the highest-cost drugs and lower out-of-pocket costs for enrollees in exchange for placing these products on the “preferred” specialty tier.

    Under the Part D program, plans currently do not have to disclose to CMS the measures they use to evaluate pharmacy performance in their network agreements. CMS has heard concerns from pharmacies that the measures plans use to assess their performance are unattainable or otherwise unfair. The measures used by plans potentially impact pharmacy reimbursements. Therefore, CMS is requiring Part D plans to disclose pharmacy performance measures to CMS, which will enable CMS better understand how such measures are applied. CMS will also be able to report pharmacy performance measures publicly to increase transparency on the process and to inform the industry in its new efforts to develop a standard set of pharmacy performance measures.

    Read more
  • World Health Organization: Updated COVID-19 Interim Guidance for LTC Facilities (1/21)

    By WHO - January 12, 2021
    Infection prevention and control guidance for long-term care facilities (including NFs and SNFs) in the context of COVID-19 Interim guidance

    8 January 2021

    This document is an update of the guidance published on 21 March 2020 and contains new evidence and guidance, including the following:

    • updated results from published studies on:
      • the epidemiology and extent of SARS-CoV-2 infection among residents and staff in long-term care facilities (LTCFs);
      • the effectiveness of infection prevention and control (IPC) precautions to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission in LTCFs;
      • the impact of IPC precautions on mental and physical health and well-being of older people, and in particular people with dementia or other mental health or neurological disorders;
    • updated advice on IPC precautions to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and to protect health workers and caregivers of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in LTCFs;
    • advice on early detection of and testing for SARS-CoV-2 among residents and staff in LTCFs;
    • advice on policies for visitors to LTCFs and additional considerations on minimizing the mental and physical health impacts of restrictions and IPC precautions implemented in the context of COVID-19.
    Read more
  • PPS Discharge Assessments: Why NACs Should Stay Up-To-Date

    By Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer - January 12, 2021

    Amid nationwide staffing shortages, veteran nurse assessment coordinators (NACs) often are being pulled to work the floor, and new NACs are coming on board with limited MDS training, notes Maureen McCarthy, RN, BS, RAC-MT, QCP-MT, DNS-MT, RAC-MTA, president/CEO of Celtic Consulting in Torrington, CT. “Resident care must come first for all staff, including NACs. However, as a result of that need to prioritize care delivery and wear more hats than ever, NACs face multiple stressors when it comes to completing the MDS and the Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) process.”


    The Part A PPS Discharge assessment (i.e., the NPE item set) is an easy target for cutting corners in a time crunch, says McCarthy. “This assessment doesn’t directly impact payment under the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) in the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS) or under Medicaid case-mix systems. Nor is it used to meet OBRA regulatory requirements for assessment and care planning.”


    Consequently, discharge assessments—both the PPS Discharge assessment and the OBRA Discharge assessment—are often the first MDSs to be put aside “to do later” when NACs lack adequate time to complete assessments, adds McCarthy. “Payment assessments take precedence when the biller is standing over your shoulder asking, ‘Are you done yet?’” she explains. “In addition, NACs want to stay on schedule completing the OBRA assessment cycle of three Quarterly MDSs and one Admission/Annual assessment every 12 months.”

    Read more
  • jRAVEN 1.7.7 Free MDS Submission Software Updated (1/21)

    By QTSO - January 11, 2021

    The Resident Assessment Validation and Entry System (jRAVEN) was developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). jRAVEN is a free Java based software application which provides an option for facilities to collect and maintain MDS Assessment data for subsequent submission to the appropriate state and/or national data repository. jRAVEN displays the MDS Item Sets similar to the paper version of the forms. Please consult the jRAVEN Installation and User Guides for additional information.

    jRAVEN v1.7.7 is now available for download under the Downloads section at the bottom of this webpage. Users do not need a previous version of jRAVEN to download, install or use jRAVEN v1.7.7.

    jRAVEN v1.7.7 includes the following enhancements:

    • The new MDS VUT, v3.5.0, updated to support Issue #17 in Errata v3.00.6 and the new ICD Code files that are in effect as of 1/1/2021
    • The new PDPM Grouper, v1.0009, updated to include the ICD codes that are effective 01/01/202
    Read more
  • FY 2021 ICD-10 Code Lookup File for MDS Item I0020B (1/21)

    By CMS - January 11, 2021

    The lookup files containing the allowable ICD codes for item I0020B for FY2021 have been updated to contain the following ICD-10 codes , as well as remove M35.8:

    The new ICD-10 codes  may be used for assessments with target date on or after January 1, 2021: Z11.52, Z20.822, Z86.16, M35.81, M35.89 and J12.82. (Note that codes M35.81 and M35.89 replace code M35.8, which should no longer be used on assessments with target date on or after January 1, 2021.)

    Read more
  • FDA Alert: SARS-CoV-2 Viral Mutation Could Cause False Negatives on Tests, but Overall Risk Is Low (1/21)

    By FDA - January 11, 2021

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting clinical laboratory staff and health care providers that the FDA is monitoring the potential impact of viral mutations, including an emerging variant from the United Kingdom known as the B.1.1.7 variant, on authorized SARS-CoV-2 molecular tests, and that false negative results can occur with any molecular test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 if a mutation occurs in the part of the virus’s genome assessed by that test. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can mutate over time, like all viruses, resulting in genetic variation in the population of circulating viral strains, as seen with the B.1.1.7 variant. The FDA is taking additional actions to ensure authorized tests remain accurate by working with test developers and conducting ongoing data analysis to evaluate all currently authorized molecular tests. The FDA believes the risk that these mutations will impact overall testing accuracy is low.

    “The FDA will continue to monitor SARS-CoV-2 genetic viral variants to ensure authorized tests continue to provide accurate results for patients,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “While these efforts continue, we are working with authorized test developers and reviewing incoming data to ensure that health care providers and clinical staff can quickly and accurately diagnose patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, including those with emerging genetic variants. At this time, we believe the data suggests that the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines may still be effective against this strain. The FDA will continue to keep health care providers and the public informed of any new information as it becomes available.”

    The FDA has been monitoring SARS-CoV-2 viral mutations, and potential impact on testing, throughout the pandemic. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic variants in a patient sample can potentially change the performance of a SARS-CoV-2 test. Tests that rely on the detection of multiple regions of the genome may be less impacted by genetic variation in the SARS-CoV-2 genome than tests that rely on detection of only a single region.

    Three currently authorized molecular tests, MesaBiotech AcculaTaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit, and Linea COVID-19 Assay Kit, may be impacted by genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2, but the impact does not appear to be significant. Importantly, the detection pattern that appears with the TaqPath and Linea diagnostic tests when certain genetic variants are present may help with early identification of new variants in patients to reduce further spread of infection. The recently identified B.1.1.7 variant has been associated with an increased risk of transmission, therefore early identification of this variant in patients may help reduce further spread of infection.

    The FDA has reminded clinical laboratory staff and health care providers about the risk of false negative results with all laboratory tests, including molecular tests. Laboratories should expect some false results to occur even when very accurate SARS-CoV-2 tests are used. Today’s announcement also provides important information and recommendations for clinical laboratory staff and health care providers who use molecular tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2.

    The FDA will continue to communicate with the public as we have additional information to share. The FDA encourages stakeholders to report any adverse events or suspected adverse events experienced with molecular tests for detection of SARS-CoV-2. Voluntary reports can be submitted through MedWatch, the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting program. Health care personnel and clinical laboratory staff employed by facilities that are performing COVID-19 testing should follow the reporting requirements for authorized laboratories as specified in the test’s Emergency Use Authorization. Prompt reporting of adverse events can help the FDA identify and better understand the risks associated with medical devices.


    Read more
  • Final PDPM Grouper DLL V1.0009 (REVISED) Effective Oct. 1, 2020

    By CMS - January 11, 2021


    An update to the PDPM Grouper DLL has been posted, along with its source code and test cases. This version, V1.0009, adds support for new ICD-10 codes that may be used for assessments with target date on or after January 1, 2021: Z11.52, Z20.822, Z86.16, M35.81, M35.89 and J12.82. (Note that codes M35.81 and M35.89 replace code M35.8, which should no longer be used on assessments with target date on or after January 1, 2021.)
    Read more
  • FY 2021 PDPM ICD-10 Mappings (1/21)

    By CMS - January 11, 2021

    The Mappings file contains: 

    • Mapping of the ICD-10-CM Recorded in Item I0020B of the MDS Assessment to PDPM Clinical Categories 
    • Mapping of Comorbidities Included in the PDPM SLP Component to ICD-10-CM Codes
    • Mapping of Comorbidities Included in the PDPM NTA Component to ICD-10-CM Codes

    These are the codes added in the January 2021 update:

    Z11.52 — Encounter for screening for COVID-19

    Z20.822 — Contact with and (suspected) exposure to COVID-19

    Z86.16 — Personal history of COVID-19

    M35.81 — Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS)

    M35.89 — Other specified systemic involvement of connective tissue

    J12.82 — Pneumonia due to coronavirus disease 2019

    (Note that codes M35.81 and M35.89 replace code M35.8, which should no longer be used on assessments with target date on or after January 1, 2021.)

    This is the seventh release (sixth production release, since 1.0005 was a beta release).

    This release also adds six ICD-10 codes that were inadvertently excluded from the NTA calculation in V1.0006:

    • T8484XA

    • T8389XA

    • T8321XA

    • T82399A

    • T82392A

     • T83021A 

    Read more
  • National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) Long-term Care Facility COVID-19 Reporting Module Website UPDATED (1/21)

    By CDC - January 10, 2021

    CDC’s NHSN provides healthcare facilities, such as long-term care facilities (LTCFs), with a customized system to track infections and prevention process measures in a systematic way. Tracking this information allows facilities to identify problems, improve care, and determine progress toward national healthcare-associated infection goals.

    The NHSN Long-term Care Facility Component is supporting the nation’s COVID-19 response through the COVID-19 Module for LTCFs. Facilities eligible to report into the COVID-19 Module include nursing homes/skilled nursing, long-term care for the developmentally disabled, and assisted living facilities.

    The COVID-19 Module for LTCFs consists of four pathways within NHSN’s Long-term Care Facility Component:

    • Resident Impact and Facility Capacity
    • Staff and Personnel Impact
    • Supplies and Personal Protective Equipment
    • Ventilator Capacity and Supplies

    Data submitted into the Module pathways enables an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 through facility reported information, including: 1) counts of residents and facility personnel with newly suspected and laboratory positive COVID-19; 2) death counts among residents and facility personnel with suspected and laboratory positive COVID-19; 3) staffing shortages; 4) availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies; and 5) ventilator capacity and supplies for facilities with ventilator dependent units.

    In addition to the reporting pathways, the Point-of-Care (POC) Test Reporting Tool has been added to enable LTCFs to enter POC SARS-CoV-2 test results into the NHSN application.  NHSN will route the POC laboratory test data to the public health agency at the local or state level that has jurisdictional authority and responsibility to receive those data.  Health agencies, in turn, will use the data to fulfill their public health functions, which include reporting to the US Department of Health and Human Services, where the data will be used in the COVID-19 response. Participation in this pathway requires users to have secure access through Secure Access Management Services (SAMS), which includes having a SAMS grid card.

    LTCF data submission options include manual entry and/or CSV file submitted by individual facilities or bulk CSV file upload for multiple facilities. Note: CSV file submission is not currently available for the Point-of-Care (POC) Test Reporting Tool.

    Read more
1 of 30 Next