THCA Update: HHSC COVID Reporting | Nurse Aide Rule Suspension | MDS Guidance

Updated: Apr 20


LTC Providers Required to Report Only Confirmed COVID-19 Cases to HHSC

As previously reported, HHSC announced today that providers report only confirmed cases of COVID-19 in staff and individuals receiving services from the provider as a self-reported incident. This is effective immediately. Providers must notify HHSC through TULIP or by calling Complaint and Incident Intake at 800-458-9858.

HHSC previously required reporting of both presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Providers are also required to report communicable diseases to the health authority with jurisdiction over their facility. This is in accordance with the Communicable Disease and Prevention Act, Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 81. It's also specified in Title 25 of the Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 97.

Emergency Rule to Increase Supply of Nurse Aides in Nursing Facilities

With today’s announcement that HHSC is temporarily suspending certain sections of 40 TAC §19.1001 to allow greater flexibility to bring nurse aides into your facilities, it is important to note the requirements for all employability checks (background, registry, etc) remain in place and you still have to demonstrate competency.

As a reminder, to assist in your efforts to ensure those new staff you bring on can demonstrate competency to provide relevant nursing and nursing related services, AHCA/NCAL is offering an 8-hour online Temporary Nurse Aide training course free to all providers as soon as all required state approvals, such as state occupational licensing and state regulatory requirements, are received.

Guidance to NF for MDS Authorization Extensions

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced today they are extending nursing facility minimum data set assessment authorizations, that expire through the end of April 2020, for 90 days.

Nursing facility eligibility, medical necessity, and the current Resource Utilization Groups level are extended for 90 days for residents who would have an eligibility lapse, or until completion of the MDS, whichever is sooner. The daily Service Authorization System files from HHSC will reflect this extension. It is vitally important that each facility conduct MDS assessments as soon as feasible to receive payment per the assessed RUG level.

Contact Medicaid_COVID_Questions@hhsc.state.tx.us with your questions or comments.

ICYMI From AHCA: COVID-19 Testing Vendors for LTC & COVID Financial Support from CMS

On April 7, AHCA/NCAL provided a summary of the challenges LTC providers are facing in gaining access to COVID-19 testing. AHCA/NCAL has been seeking companies who can provide testing for LTC providers with reasonable turnaround times, and have put together a list of credible vendors here . This list will be continuously updated as more vendors are found. If you know of any vendors that should be added to this list, please contact AHCA at COVID19@ahca.org.

In addition, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 Accelerated Payment Program is a streamlined version of existing policy that allows Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to issue no-interest short term loan payments in certain circumstances, including national emergencies. AHCA members and Independent Operator Council co-chairs Sarah Schumann and Mark Traylor, who submitted requests for and quickly received the accelerated payments, have the following recommendations for their peers: “We strongly recommend that SNF operators take full advantage of the CMS COVID-19 Accelerated Payment Program. It’s a simple 5-10-minute process to complete and submit the application for an interest-free loan to assure adequate cash-flow during these challenging times. Since it must be paid back later, we suggest setting this advance into a separate reserve account to use as an emergency fund.” Providers can learn more details in the AHCA Accelerated and Advanced Payments FAQ document here.

Stay Strong for the communities you support, Stay Safe and thank you for what you do!