CMS Announces End Dates for Various COVID Waivers, Including Nurse Aide Certification

In a Memorandum released on April 7, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will terminate several temporary emergency declaration blanket waivers that have provided nursing facilities and other provider types with flexibilities designed to support the COVID response.

"While the waivers of regulatory requirements have provided flexibility in how nursing homes may operate," CMS notes, "they have also removed the minimum standards for quality that help ensure residents' health and safety are protected."

CMS has sorted the waivers that are ending into two groups:

  • 30 Day Timeline: One group of waivers will end thirty days from the date of the memo. This list includes flexibilities relating to physician visits, QAPI, and discharge planning, among others.
  • 60 Day Timeline: The second group of waivers will end sixty days from the date of the memo. This group includes the nurse aide training and certification waiver, along with waivers relating to in-service training, paid feeding assistant training, physical environment, life safety inspection, testing and maintenance requirements, and others.

According to those timelines, providers will be expected to take the steps needed to return to compliance with the reinstated requirements.

Specific to nurse aide training and certification, however, CMS clarified in previous guidance (QSO-21-17-NH) that nurse aides will have the full four-month period starting from the end of the blanket waiver to complete the required training and certification, regardless of the amount of time worked during the time the waiver was in effect. In other words, affected individuals will have 60 days from the date of the CMS memo, plus four months, to become certified.

In the April 7 memo, CMS adds that the nurse aide waiver may continue to apply in a narrow circumstance where the number of aides needing to complete a training program and/or test exceeds available training and testing capacity. We will work with members and the Minnesota Department of Health to learn more about this guidance and determine how it applies given the situation here, including recent delays in access to testing.

We encourage members to review QSO-22-15-NH & NLTC & LSC for the complete list of affected waivers. We will provide additional information about this breaking news during our April 8 member Huddle.

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