How new legislation and policies impact SNF infection prevention and control

The American Rescue Plan of 2021, which includes resources for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), was signed into law in March. And in April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule (CMS 1746-P), which includes two new Quality Reporting Program (QRP) measures.

After a tumultuous year, skilled nursing facilities are undoubtedly concerned about legislation and policies that affect their Infection Prevention and Control programs.

Here’s what you need to know about these recent changes.

How the new stimulus bill supports SNFs

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 was signed into law to support the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1.9 trillion relief package includes the following provisions to enhance infection control support at SNFs:

  • $200 million for quality improvement organizations to provide infection control and vaccination uptake support
  • $250 million to states to deploy “strike teams” (i.e., groups of public health, infection control and emergency response personnel) to assist with clinical care, infection control or staffing for up to one year after the COVID-19 emergency period ends
  • $8.5 billion added to the Provider Relief Fund for rural health care providers, including nursing homes, enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid that provide COVID-19 diagnosis, testing or medical care

Understanding the two new QRP measures

On April 8, 2021, CMS issued a proposed rule that included updates to the Skilled Nursing Facility Quality Reporting Program (SNF QRP). The rule includes two new quality measure proposals slated to begin FY 2023:

  1. Skilled Nursing Facility Healthcare-Associated Infections Requiring Hospitalization

The goal of this outcome measure is to identify SNFs with notably higher rates of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) resulting in hospitalization, in comparison to peers. This proposed measure uses claims data to estimate the risk-adjusted rate of HAIs acquired during SNF care which result in hospitalizations.

The measure targets all infections that are serious enough to require admission to an acute care hospital. It is risk-adjusted to “level the playing field” and to allow comparison of performance based on residents with similar characteristics between SNFs.

  1. SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination Coverage Among Healthcare Personnel

This process measure tracks COVID-19 vaccination coverage among healthcare personnel (HCP) in many provider facilities, including SNFs. The measure will be used to assess whether SNFs are taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 among their staff, residents and local communities.

The measure quantifies the cumulative number of HCP eligible to work in the facility for at least one day during the reporting period and who received a complete vaccination course against SARS-CoV-2 since the date vaccine was first available. HCP with contraindications to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination are excluded.

SNFs will report vaccination data through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network beginning FY 2023. Facility-level COVID-19 HCP vaccination rates will be published on Care Compare.

Streamline infection prevention and control

ABILTY can help you make the most of relief funding and stay on top of regulatory changes. With ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH, your SNF team can closely monitor infectious disease outbreaks, track infection prevention and control strategies and simplify regulatory compliance. Discover how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can streamline infection surveillance and management at your facility today!

 

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