CMS Liberalizes Visitation to Nursing Homes. . . A Little

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Courtesy of the Center for Medicare Advocacy

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently revised its guidance on visitations to nursing facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic via seven Frequently Asked Questions.[1] CMS is authorizing additional, more flexible guidance on visitation, while reiterating the need for screening, social distancing, hand hygiene, and face coverings during all visits.

CMS provides additional examples of “compassionate care situations” that allow visitation in more than end-of-life situations (Question 2). It recommends “creative means” and flexibility for allowing visitation, including visits outdoors (Question 3). CMS confirms that residents can participate in group activities, if they are able to maintain necessary precautions (Question 4).

Recognizing the importance of the ombudsman program, CMS confirms that facilities must provide ombudsman with immediate access to residents, even if ombudsmen cannot visit in-person due to COVID-19 (Question 7). 

Finally, facilities must comply with all discharge requirements, except for discharges for purposes of cohorting (grouping resident by COVID status). Facilities must send a copy of all discharge notices to the state ombudsman. 

States have already begun liberalizing visitation rules. This will be a welcome change for many residents and families

Toby Edelman
July 2, 2020


[1] CMS, “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Nursing Home Visitation” (Jun. 23, 2020), https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-visitation-nursing-home-residents.pdf.

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