Funds Available to SNFs to Address Infection Control, Staff COVID-19 Testing

Last Thursday HHS made a distribution from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) to nursing homes, which was half of a total distribution of $5 billion that was announced in July.

The distribution that went out last week was a $10,000 base amount plus $1,450 for each bed. Like other PRF payments, providers will have 90 days from receipt of payment to attest to the associated terms and conditions. The terms and conditions are more restrictive for these funds than previous distributions and are targeted at “infection control.” COVID-19 testing and infection control programming are the primary allowable uses. 

The change in allowable uses presents an administrative challenge to nursing homes since they will have to track these funds separate from prior PRF payments to make sure the funds are being used appropriately. The focus on infection control and testing costs appears to be tied in with the recent federal rule that mandates regular testing of nursing home employees. HHS also announced that the next step in this round of nursing home PRF distribution will be an additional $2 billion distributed "later this fall based on certain performance indicators that will be shared in the future."

In addition to PRF funds that can be used to cover COVID-19 testing costs, MN DHS recently posted a policy memo indicating that they will pay for costs of nursing home employee testing under their emergency authority in MN Statutes 12A.10. Providers will need to be sure about how much of the PRF money they are using for testing before claiming reimbursement through the state, but the state’s policy is an important backstop for nursing home providers giving them confidence that testing costs will be covered as we move into implementation of the rule requiring mandatory testing.

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