The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) announced that it is relaxing its nursing home testing requirements.
In an August memo (details), CMS outlined on p. 5 the frequency at which nursing facilities must test staff. If a facility was in a county where positivity rate was less than five percent, the required minimum testing frequency was once per month. For counties with a positive rate between five and ten percent, the testing requirement was once per week, and for all facilities in counties with rates greater than 10 percent, the testing requirement as twice per week.
In yesterday’s announcement, however, CMS modified these testing requirements such that they are now also tied to the number of tests per county, in addition to the positivity rate. Now, counties with 20 or fewer tests over a 14-day period will now only have to test staff once per month. Moreover, facilities that were previously required to test twice a week will now be required to test once per week if they reside in counties that administered fewer than 500 test and fewer than 2,000 tests per 10,000 residents, and greater than 10 percent positivity over a 14-day period.
CMS states it made these changes after hearing concerns from rural facilities, who were concerned that rural areas’ higher positivity rates were due to low amounts of testing as opposed to a truly higher degree of COVID-19 presence. Such testing requirements were too burdensome, rural facilities stated, which CMS stated prompted these changes.