Coronavirus News: Connecticut expands financial aid for nursing homes amid COVID-19 pandemic

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Sunday, April 19, 2020

CONNECTICUT (WABC) -- Governor Ned Lamont confirmed Sunday he is directing his administration to boost Medicaid payments for all of Connecticut's 215 nursing homes by an additional five percent above the recently announced ten percent increase.

Together, the 15 percent across-the-board financial relief will provide an additional $65 million in Medicaid payment increases to the state's nursing homes.

The administration notified nursing home association leaders and representatives of the nursing home employees' union in letters that were delivered this weekend.

"Connecticut's nursing home operators and their employees provide an incredible service to the people of our state, including the 22,000 residents receive direct care in nursing homes on a daily basis," Governor Lamont said. "I want to extend my profound gratitude to them, particularly during this unprecedented global pandemic that is having a particularly adverse impact on the elderly and individuals with disabilities residing in long-term care settings."

The state's increased financial support will be applied toward:

- Employee wages, including staff retention bonuses, overtime, and shift incentive payments;

- New costs related to screening of visitors

- Personal protective equipment

- Cleaning and housekeeping supplies

- Other costs related to COVID-19

In addition, in recognition of the continuing needs of nursing homes during this crisis, the Lamont administration is also announcing implementation of the following additional measures to the state's Medicaid program:

- The state will provide an across-the-board rate increase of 10 percent for non-COVID beds, retroactive to March 1 (previously, the 10 percent increase was to take affect April 1).

- The state will provide an additional across-the-board rate increase of 5 percent for non-COVID beds for the period of April 1 through June 30, bringing the total increase during this period of 15 percent.

- The state will reimburse at $400 per day for COVID-positive residents in non-COVID recovery facilities. This rate is in effect for a maximum of 30 days per bed.

- The state's advance of $11.6 million from the initial 10 percent rate increase, which was received by skilled nursing facilities on April 7, is now being extended back to March 1 - adding $12 million in immediate revenue.

The state is also assisting with start-up costs and $600 per-day payment to all facilities that are designated by the Department of Public Health as suitable to be re-opened for the purpose of serving residents with COVID-19 who are being discharged from hospitals and who need nursing home level of care.

Altogether, the extra across-the-board Medicaid payments for all nursing homes totals $65 million. Another $15.4 million is dedicated to special nursing home services for COVID-positive residents.

In addition to the increased state assistance, it is also anticipated that nursing homes will receive enhanced support through the federal government from Medicare, a program wholly administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For example, a significant percentage of symptomatic COVID-positive nursing home residents will be able to shift over to Medicare coverage at the Medicare per diem (estimated at $536), providing financial relief to the nursing home industry.

The federal government is also providing general relief for all Medicare providers under the recently adopted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that is expected to provide substantial resources to nursing home facilities.

State begins site visits to every nursing home in Connecticut to extend additional support

To provide additional support to the state's nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the Connecticut Department of Public Health has announced that its staff will be making physical, on-site visits to all of Connecticut's 215 nursing homes and long-term care facilities over the next seven to ten days.

The department's Healthcare Quality and Safety Branch, with guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will conduct infection control surveys during each visit. This will be a first among states in the region, as all nurses in the Facility Licensing and Investigations Section have been fit-tested for N95 respirators, which is a federal requirement.

To view the form that will be used during these site visits, click here.



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