VACCINE NEWS

Surveyors to be Fully Vaccinated
CMS posted a memo this yesterday outlining VACCINATION EXPECTATIONS FOR SURVEYORS. You read that right. CMS has now outlined expectations that surveyors should be vaccinated against COVID-19. Read the memo here for more information.

Here are the broad strokes:

  • CMS expects surveyors to be vaccinated against COVID-19
  • State survey agencies / accrediting organizations should have a process for exemptions and additional precautions for exempt staff
  • Only vaccinated or exempt staff are permitted to participate in on-site survey activities
  • Unvaccinated staff who have not been granted an exemption are permitted to participate in off-site activities only
  • Providers MAY NOT request proof of vaccination as a condition of entry
  • Questions should be referred to KDADS
  • KDADS has 30 days to meet this expectation

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

STATE NEWS

Important Webinar on February 8th at 2 PM: KDADS LTC Provider Webinar on Staff Vaccination Regulatory Oversight and Enforcement  
Time will be reserved for Q &A. Presenters: Deputy Secretary Scott Brunner, Commissioner Lacey Hunter, Assistant Commissioner Dawne Stevenson. Here is the link to participate.

FEDERAL NEWS

CMS to Increase Test Kit Allocation to Nursing Homes
After ongoing conversations with HHS, LeadingAge has learned that CMS is planning to send additional antigen test kits to nursing homes. We understand that an additional 5 million tests will be sent based on county prevalence and resident and staff counts reported to NHSN. The additional supply may not meet the entire need but will help close the gap. We are continuing to advocate for more test kits. These additional test kits will be the oral-pharyngeal Celltrion POC tests. We do not have additional details but will share them as soon as we do. We encourage you to continue to also reach out to your state or local health department and suppliers for additional vaccines, which we know are in short supply.

FDA Limits Use of Certain Monoclonal Antibodies to Treat COVID-19 Due to the Omicron Variant
In light of the most recent information and data available, today, the FDA revised the authorizations for two monoclonal antibody treatments – bamlanivimab and etesevimab (administered together) and REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) – to limit their use to only when the patient is likely to have been infected with or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments. Because data show these treatments are highly unlikely to be active against the omicron variant, which is circulating at a very high frequency throughout the United States, these treatments are not authorized for use in any U.S. states, territories, and jurisdictions at this time. In the future, if patients in certain geographic regions are likely to be infected or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments, then use of these treatments may be authorized in these regions.

FDA Takes Actions to Expand Use of Treatment for Outpatients with Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took two actions to expand the use of the antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir) to certain non-hospitalized adults and pediatric patients for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 disease. This provides another treatment option to reduce the risk of hospitalization in high-risk patients. Previously, the use of Veklury was limited to patients requiring hospitalization.

Antibody Testing Guidelines
CDC updated its interim guidelines for COVID-19 antibody testing in clinical and public health settings. Specifically, the guidelines include added language for people that are up to date with their vaccines and quarantine and isolation recommendations.

OTC Home Testing and CLIA Applicability
CMS updated their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on over the counter (OTC) home testing and clinical laboratory improvement amendments (CLIA) applicability.

LEADINGAGE KANSAS NEWS

Make Sure You are Registered for our Weekly Webinars
Register for 2022 here if you haven’t already.

LEADINGAGE NATIONAL NEWS

LeadingAge Letter to President Biden Seeking Immediate COVID Relief for Aging Services Providers
LeadingAge sent a letter to President Biden asking for immediate relief for aging services providers who have been on the frontlines of the nation’s battle against the pandemic for more than two years. LeadingAge continues to press for key provisions contained in the House-passed Build Back Better legislation, but this letter to the President is intended to support his request for additional, immediate help. We asked for: funding for emergency payments of $2,000 to every frontline worker across the continuum who has worked at least six months; funding for a $5 an hour raise for every frontline worker across the continuum; $8-10 billion in additional Provider Relief Funds; a testing system dedicated to aging services; a supply of therapeutics dedicated to aging services; extension of pandemic waivers after the Public Health Emergency ends to support a smooth transition out of the emergency; and support for affordable senior housing. The letter was featured in the Washington Post today.

LeadingAge Letter to CMS Administrator Brooks-LaSure Seeking Delay in Posting of Nursing Home Staffing Data 
CMS’s current plan is to start posting nursing home staffing data on Care Compare with the tomorrow’s update. Today LeadingAge sent a letter to CMS advocating to delay the posting of data on nursing home staffing and the implementation of staffing quality measures. While we support transparency around the staffing issues facing nursing homes and other providers, we have heard overwhelming feedback about the poor timing of this latest move by CMS that will do nothing beyond unnecessarily subjecting nursing homes to public scrutiny and criticism over a problem that impacts all sectors at this time.

OSHA Withdraws Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard
In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision enjoining the enforcement of the OSHA Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), OSHA has officially withdrawn the ETS. This ETS applied to all employers with 100 or more employees and required businesses to implement a vaccine mandate or weekly testing option for all employees. However, OSHA noted, “although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.” This will effectively end all the ongoing litigation challenging the Vaccination and Testing ETS. OSHA standards take much longer to enact than CMS proposed rules (typically 6+ years), but we will continue to monitor any developments.

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Dana is so much more than her title, which is Chief Operating Officer of LeadingAge Kansas. Her passion for elders transcends her formalized role and is visible in all facets of the association. She provides leadership to education, membership, office and account management, oversees IT, serves on the management team, writes grants, and develops new programs. Dana also serves as Executive Director of the LeadingAge Kansas Foundation. Despite her humongous role in LeadingAge Kansas’s success, she maintains a humble perspective and is thrilled just to make members easier by helping them solve their problems. She has a passion for seniors and believes they’re the most interesting and underrated group of people in America. In her free time, you can find Dana chasing storms and blogging about food! Contact Dana at 785.233.7443, ext. 109.