In a memorandum released on June 25, CMS announced the end of the COVID-19 emergency waiver for staffing data submissions.
Back in March, CMS had granted a series of blanket waivers to lessen administrative burden and allow nursing homes to focus on responding to the COVID-19 threat. Facilities now must resume submission of their staffing data through the payroll-based journal (PBJ) system as required by regulation.
Why it matters
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that facilities with lower nurse staffing levels and lower scores on the Five-Star Quality Rating System before the pandemic had higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths. In fact, higher nurse staffing ratios were strongly correlated with fewer cases and deaths.
The authors of the study recommended that nursing home inspections should target facilities with lower RN staffing levels and quality ratings in addition to those located in areas with high infection rates.
On the heels of these findings, CMS made the announcement that nursing homes must recommence submission of their staffing data, stating that “we continue to emphasize the importance of staffing based on its relationship to quality.”
What this means for your facility
Here’s what you need to know about PBJ data submissions for 2020:
- Staffing data for April-June is due by the usual deadline of August 14
- You are not required to submit your staffing data for January-March
- Nursing Home Compare is displaying the staffing star rating based on your October-December 2019 data
- New Five-Star staffing ratings, based on your April-June data, will post at the end of October 2020
- Facilities that received an automatic staffing downgrade to one star for the fourth quarter of 2019 will have their measures and rating temporarily suppressed and that one-star staffing rating downgrade removed
How ABILITY can help
While CMS is giving long-term care providers the opportunity to correct and improve their star rating, the agency plans to restart inspections “as soon as possible.” To protect your star ratings and ensure compliance with the PBJ reporting requirements, it is crucial to act soon. This is where ABILITY can help.
ABILITY CAREWATCH PBJ puts the right tools at your fingertips so you can efficiently collect, classify, validate and submit your facility’s direct care staffing data accurately and on-time.
To see firsthand how easy PBJ reporting can be, request a demo today.
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