Because of COVID-19 restrictions on visitation in nursing homes, facilities may now apply to purchase up to $3,000 of adaptive communicative technologies for their residents using Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Reinvestment funds.
 
To speed the process, nursing homes can apply directly to state agencies, using a new application template developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The template helps applicants provide all the information needed. Applications go to the state agency’s CMP contact.
 
State agencies can approve applications that meet CMS parameters. To avoid CMS review, applicants must do the following:

  • Apply using the COVID-19 Communicative Technology Application Template.
  • Only include requests for funds to purchase communicative technology devices (such as iPads, tablets, webcams) and accessories (such as headphones, protective covers).
  • Understand that devices should be shared among residents, with a ratio of one device to seven to 10 residents, with no purchases of personal devices for any resident. Devices should not be shared between COVID-19 positive (or suspected) and other residents (COVID-19 negative or observation status). Devices must be cleaned and disinfected between residents.
  • Facilities may apply for up to $3,000 for communicative technology per facility, with exceptions considered for large facilities. 

Devices must be able to support both virtual social and telehealth visits—they must connect to the internet and have appropriate software or apps. Devices that promote virtual visits include iPads, tablets, Amazon Echo Show, Kindle Fire, and the like. Free software includes WhatsApp (international), FaceTime (Apple), Google Meet, Facebook Messenger, and Skype. The applicant should determine if the facility has internet and Wi-Fi.
 
Applicants may also request reasonable accessories, such as screen protectors and device covers, but the total cost for devices and accessories must remain under $3,000. These devices can also be used to help residents attend telehealth visits with practitioners. CMS recently released a Telehealth Toolkit to help nursing homes facilitate these visits.

A line-item budget for all devices and accessories, broken down by facility for which CMP funding is requested, is also part of the application.
 
To learn more, see the CMP Application for Communicative Technology Requests Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for State Medicaid Agencies. More information is also available on page 4 of these CMS FAQs.  Please also check out the LeadingAge CAST Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology Selection Tool to review potential software solutions that facilitate an easy social connection, and see a recent QuickCast focusing on Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology.