Documenting Decisionmaking In a Pandemic

There is hardly an element of life that has not gone untouched or completely upended by COVID-19.  With ubiquitous “shelter in place” orders and worldwide “social distancing,” finding notaries public and other witnesses for the signing of legal documents has become challenging for many folks and nearly impossible for long term care facility residents.  The burdens for these residents include: National, state, county, and city orders essentially prohibiting on-site visitors for nursing home and assisted living facility residents;Law that bars health care providers from acting as witnesses of Advance Health Care Directives (AHCDs); Fellow residents who cannot serve as witnesses because of varying degrees of infirmity and cognitive impairment;Law requiring AHCDs be witnessed by a long term care Ombudsman at a time when Ombudsman are not able to go into facilities.

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Eviction Relief for Residents of California Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Judicial Council of California adopts emergency rule for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis While state, county, and municipal authorities in California have sensibly acted to limit evictions during the current shelter-in-place order, these measures have provided little protection for residents of skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”) and residential care facilities for the elderly (“RCFEs”)—until now. In a meeting on April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California adopted an emergency rule effectively stopping all evictions, other than those necessary to protect public health and safety, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6826551/20-141-Emergency-Rules-Complete-Rule-Set-as.pdf The emergency rule prohibits a California court from issuing a summons in an eviction case— also called an “unlawful detainer” proceeding— unless the eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety.

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Senators Request Release of List of Nursing Homes with COVID-19

Courtesy of The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care Senators Casey and Wyden sent a letter dated April 2 to CMS and CDC requesting release of a list of nursing homes that have had a resident or staff member with a positive COVID-19 test. The request was made after the Senators learned that the agencies are maintaining a list of facilities with documented cases of COVID-19, but are refusing to release the information.  The Senators also requested information on how CMS intends to spend $100 million provided to the agency to limit the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes as part of the recently passed CARES Act.

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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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Social Security Scam Alert

Courtesy of Justice in Aging SSA is not taking any new, manual actions to reduce, suspend, or delay any benefits during this period, although automated actions may continue. If an individual receives a communication threatening to suspend or discontinue benefits because SSA offices are closed, this is most likely a scam, and should be reported to the Inspector General.

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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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