Governor Whitmer Vetoes SB 956
The legislature recently approved a bill prohibiting nursing facilities from retaining or admitting an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. The bill is a result of the legislature's disagreement with the Governor's policy placing COVID-19 patients in separate units within nursing facilities - many legislators prefer placement in entirely separate facilities.
Last Friday evening, Governor Whitmer vetoed the bill, stating that the bill is based on the "false premise" that the regional hub program was insufficient to protect residents. Additionally, the Governor criticized the bill as lacking in important details such as funding sources and how patients would be protected during transfer.
Senate Bill 956 would have required the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to establish entire facilities in each of the eight health care regions in the state dedicated to care for COVID-19 patients. Under the bill, beginning September 1, a nursing facility must move a resident who tests positive for COVID-19 to a dedicated facility or to an available physically separate building. MDHHS in consultation with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) would also be required to report to the legislature the outcomes of the regional hubs established under EO 2020-50. The departments must also present a plan by September 1 to ensure the dedicated facilities are established to take only COVID-19 patients who are not eligible for admission to a hospital, nursing facility, or adult foster care facility.
Bill sponsor Senator Lucido has requested a veto override vote from the legislature. It is unclear if and when a vote may be taken.
You can find the bill and track its progress by clicking HERE.
Doctors Without Borders Concludes Michigan Initiative
The internationally renowned organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobilized teams to long-term care facilities in Michigan, including 31 nursing homes and 24 foster care homes, over the past months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These teams provided in-person support to improve infection prevention and control measures.
MSF emergency coordinator Heather Pagano stated "At the start of the pandemic, long-term care facilities were left to fend for themselves without protective equipment or adequate infection prevention and control (IPC) training. Staff told us that they were overwhelmed and confused, drowning in guidance and regulations on safety measures from many sources, but without the on-the-ground support that can make all the difference."
MSF shared recommendations to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, which include further training and on-site support rather than punitive action and timely testing. These recommendations reflect what the profession has been advocating for since the start of the pandemic - nursing facilities must be prioritized for resources and testing.
You can access the findings and recommendations of the Doctors Without Borders teams in Michigan by clicking HERE.
CMS Extends ABN Deadline Date
Due to COVID-19 concerns, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the deadline for use of the renewed Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN) Form #CMS-R-131 (exp. 6/30/2023). The extension moves the mandatory use date of the renewed form out to 1/1/2021. The renewed form may be implemented prior to that mandatory deadline at providers discretion. The ABN form is available in both English & Spanish and in large print versions. The forms and instructions may be found HERE.
For questions or concerns please contact Cathy Sunlin at CathySunlin@HCAM.org.
Aug. 5, 2020