HHS Office for Civil Rights Releases Bulletin on Prohibitions Against Discrimination

Courtesy of Justice in Aging Recently, disability rights advocates filed four complaints about discriminatory state protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic. In response late last week, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights issued “Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019,” a bulletin to guide states, hospitals, and providers in developing treatment rationing plans and administering care in the event of a shortage of medical equipment, hospital beds, or health care personnel.

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Social Security Beneficiaries Will Receive Stimulus Payments Automatically; SSI-Only & VA-Only Beneficiaries Must File Tax Returns

Courtesy of Justice in Aging On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced that people who receive Social Security Title II retirement, survivors’, and disability insurance benefits will not need to file tax returns to get their CARES Act Economic Impact Payments. While this is an important assurance, the Administration is still requiring millions of low-income seniors and people with disabilities who receive only Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans (VA) Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension benefits to file a tax return in order to receive their stimulus payment.

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Medicare Patients Under “Observation Status” Win Right to Appeal

Courtesy of Justice in Aging In a decision issued last week, a federal court judge in a nationwide class action ruled that Medicare beneficiaries who have been denied coverage for nursing facility services after transferring from hospitals because the hospital changed their status from “in patient” to “observation status” now have a right to appeal their classification, and potentially receive reimbursement from Medicare for the uncovered nursing facility charges.

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State of Louisiana Protects Nursing Home Residents from COVID-19

The State of Louisiana and the Louisiana Department of Health issued an order prohibiting hospitals from discharging COVID-19 positive patients (or patients with respiratory symptoms) into nursing homes. We applaud this prudent and crucial measure and urge California and other states to immediately follow their excellent example. The relevant portion of the order reads in part:  -the Department hereby temporarily prohibits hospital to nursing facility discharges for the following three types of patients for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of this Notice:  (a) A patient with active COVID-19;  (b) A patient that has a pending COVID-19 test; and  (c) A patient that has undiagnosed, active respiratory symptoms.  You can download and view the entire order HERE (PDF).

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Keep our Nursing Home and Assisted Living Residents Safe

Don’t Allow Discharges of COVID-19 Positive Patients into Long Term Care If we have learned nothing else over the past couple of weeks, it is that residents of skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities are the most vulnerable to infection and death as a result of the Coronavirus. Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington – a 120 bed skilled nursing home – became the center of the COVID-19 pandemic where 37 facility residents and visitors have died so far from the virus, and many more have fallen ill.

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CALTCM Calls Sending Contagious COVID Patients to Nursing Homes “a Clear and Present Danger to All of the Residents.”

From the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine CALTCM Resolution: COVID-19 Whereas, SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 pandemic) is known to be particularly lethal to older adults and chronically ill individuals, and Whereas, skilled nursing facilities are predominantly filled with this vulnerable population, and Whereas, there is currently an inadequate supply of testing available to understand the present state of infection in skilled nursing facilities, and facilities should be considered to be COVID-19-naïve until testing demonstrates otherwise, and

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Urgent Action Needed to Protect California Nursing Home Residents from COVID-19

New Directives Are Needed to Keep Residents Safe No California population is more at imminent risk of death or severe illness from COVID-19 than nursing home residents. There is an immediate need for public officials to implement stronger measures to help keep them safe. Although well intended, the actions taken to-date are not nearly sufficient to keep residents safe and some of the measures are counterproductive.

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Coronavirus Crisis: Skilled Nursing Visitation Guidelines as of 3/16/20

As part of continuing efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus to vulnerable people in nursing homes, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which regulates most skilled nursing homes, has issued new and very stringent guidelines restricting nearly all nursing home visitors https://www.cms.gov/files/document/3-13-2020-nursing-home-guidance-covid-19.pdf.  While the right of nursing home residents to visitation is protected by law, under federal and state emergency declarations, these protections have been temporarily suspended to help prevent visitors from infecting residents whose age or illness may make them very susceptible to the virus.

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Visitation Guidelines for Residential Care, Assisted Living, and Board and Care Facilities for the Elderly as of March 16, 2020

As part of the state government’s continuing efforts to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable people, the Community Care Licensing Division of the State Department of Social Services (CCLD) has issued new, even stricter guidelines regarding visitor access to assisted living facilities housing California elders. It is important to note that while the CCLD now supports some extraordinary new measures to limit visitor access to facilities, it has also made clear that facility administrators must work to assist families and friends of residents to provide alternative forms of access and information.  As we explained in our update of March 13 , California protects the rights of residents to have visitors and to leave facilities (http://canhr.org/publications/PDFs/coronavirus_rcfe_guidelines_20200313.pdf).

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