The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking a marked increase in COVID cases in the U.S. as we move into fall—almost 20% in the past month—and LeadingAge continues to provide the tools and insight you need to keep the staff and residents in your organization safe.
OIG Finds HRSA Had Effective Processes for COVID-19 Distributions to High-Risk Facilities
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) evaluated the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) processes and determined it had an effective process to identify and monitor high-risk health centers that received COVID-19 grant funds, and as such had no recommendations. OIG has several evaluations underway including one auditing the use of Provider Relief Funds, which is expected in the coming weeks.
September 26, 2023
Members Hear from Omnicare/CVS on Vaccines & Coverage
Guests from Omnicare/CVS on LeadingAge’s Policy Update call on September 25 addressed a number of issues related to COVID, flu, and RSV vaccines. In particular, they offered a quick primer on coverage. More details will be addressed related to recommendations, approvals, effectiveness, and the underlying science of these vaccines and boosters on our September 27 call with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For now: COVID vaccines, including the new monovalent vaccine (the bivalent is no longer authorized for use in the U.S.) follow different coverage policies now that the Public Health Emergency is ended. For Medicare beneficiaries not in a Part A covered stay, the COVID vaccine, like the flu vaccine, is covered without cost sharing under Part B. Medicaid programs must cover the COVID vaccine without cost sharing. For individuals in a Part A SNF stay, both the COVID and flu vaccines fall under consolidated billing. The RSV vaccine is covered without cost sharing under Part D when provided in-network by the individual’s plan. Not all plans have announced they will cover it yet, but it is expected that they will.
A recording of the call will be available here, where all call recordings are archived. Register for the Monday and Wednesday 3:30 p.m. ET Policy Update calls here.
September 22, 2023
“Up to Date” Definition Change Reporting Trainings
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will change the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) surveillance definition of “up to date” for reporting weeks beginning on September 25, 2023, to align with new ACIP recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines. Once the new vaccine and new vaccination recommendations are applied to surveillance data collection, the percentage of long-term care residents and healthcare personnel who are reported as up to date for COVID vaccine may change.
The training webinar “Up to Date Vaccination Status: Surveillance Definition Change for Long Term Care Facilities (REPLAY)” is being offered for three dates; register now for September 22,September 25, or October 2 trainings.
September 21, 2023
Household Mailing of COVID Tests to Resume
Beginning September 25, 2023, every U.S. household can again place an order to receive four free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to their home. Starting September 25, the free tests can be ordered via www.covidtests.gov. The Department of Health and Human Services officials say the tests are able to detect the latest COVID variants and are intended to be used through the end of the year. In related news, the Food & Drug Administration has a website to see if existing COVID tests’ expiration dates have been extended.
September 20, 2023
COVID Tests for Nursing Homes, Assisted Living
With the uptick in COVID cases, LeadingAge has received some questions about whether the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is still distributing COVID-19 test kits to long-term care providers and what to do to obtain additional test kits or ask questions. We queried the individual who leads this work in the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and learned that HHS is continuing to distribute test kits to assisted living and nursing home providers, sending weekly allocations to sites unless they have asked to no longer receive test kits or have asked for a decrease in their allocations.
If providers have questions or want to request more test kits, they are advised to email firstname.lastname@example.org with specific numbers and details on where to send the test kits.
September 13, 2023
CDC Recommends Updated Vaccines for All Aged Six Months and Up; Definition of ‘Up to Date’ To Change
Mandy Cohen, M.D., director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), signed off on a recommendation from CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that all Americans over six months old get the latest COVID vaccine, stating “We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19. CDC is now recommending updated COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older to better protect you and your loved ones.” CDC will change the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) surveillance definition of “up to date” for reporting weeks beginning on September 25, 2023, to align with the new ACIP recommendations. Read the full article.
August 31, 2023
Stay Cautious for Fall Respiratory Disease Season, CDC Says
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts a moderate wave of COVID and typical waves of flu and RSV this respiratory disease season but warns that a strain on the health care system could be possible depending on various factors. CDC shared its Respiratory Disease Season Outlook on August 30 to discuss predictions for the 2023-2024 respiratory disease season.
CDC warns that though individual diseases may peak at different times, the respiratory disease season as a whole will likely peak higher than pre-pandemic seasons. COVID severity is likely to be consistent with last year’s severity, but the timing of a peak is unknown and will depend on factors such as vaccine uptake and the appearance of immune-escaping variants. Flu is predicted to be within the typical range of severity, but CDC warns flu season could peak early this year. RSV is anticipated to be typical in severity, but CDC warns it is challenging to anticipate RSV severity and peak due to a lack of current data and models. Other factors, such as RSV vaccine uptake, will also have an impact. LeadingAge encourages members to work with their pharmacy partners to ensure they are able to offer vaccination for all three diseases in their communities.
August 29, 2023
COVID Case Uptick: HUD’s Free Test Kit Program Continues
With data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealing a rise in COVID-related hospitalizations, ensuring the health and well-being of those most vulnerable, which includes older adults in every care setting and community type, is top of mind. The good news: Free COVID-19 antigen test kits continue to be available to providers of affordable housing for low-income older adults through the Department of Housing and Urban Development via an initiative LeadingAge announced to members in late 2022.
To get kits, owners of Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program buildings and site-based staff should visit the COVID-19 Antigen Test Kit Ordering Portal for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly webpage. It includes details on how to submit requests via the COVID-19 Test Kit Portal, which was developed through LeadingAge’s longstanding engagement and advocacy work with both HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
HUD highly encourages Section 202 property staff to review the instructional materials before ordering and take note of the need for an iREMS number for the “State PIN” field of the order form (the process for attaining an iREMS numbers is described on the COVID test resource page). Once ordered, kits are delivered directly to properties weekly.
August 28, 2023
CDC Eyes New Fall Vaccine
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet on September 12 to decide whether to recommend updated COVID vaccines, and it is expected that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will approve new COVID vaccines soon. FDA approval must be complete before ACIP meets. If all proceeds smoothly, CDC leaders anticipate vaccine rollout will begin by mid-September. Vaccines will likely be monovalent, targeting a single strain.
Older adults and individuals with immunocompromising conditions will be able to get a second dose of vaccine this year. Regarding tests, it was reported at an August 24 media briefing that the Department of Health and Human Services still has a significant supply of tests that it is shipping to schools, libraries, long-term care communities, and other distribution points.
With the absence of guidance on the best time for COVID-19 boosters from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we’ve seen suggestions from other non-expert sources—so we asked our CDC contacts to advise. We were told that “until the fall updated vaccine is available, those who have never been vaccinated or feel they need additional protection beyond their most recent vaccination might consider getting the currently available bivalent COVID vaccine in consultation with their health care provider.”
Keep in mind that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine now or in early September could delay your ability to get the updated vaccine this fall. There are no additional clarifications based on age or place of residence.
May 10, 2023
Community-Based Partnerships: Guide to Success
As the Public Health Emergency ends, LeadingAge is arming members with a resource to help ensure ongoing well-being in communities across the country. Through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Vaccine Equity and Awareness Program (VEAP), LeadingAge partnered with a multicultural marketing firm to create Developing Community-Based Partnerships toolkit designed to help cultivate strategic partnerships within a community, implement outreach strategies, and develop communications that reach diverse communities.
LeadingAge Awards Over $270K in Vaccine Grants via HHS Partnership
Continuing its partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services, today announces the members who will receive grants totalling more than $270,000 from the agency’s We Can Do This public education campaign, with more to be distributed in the near future.
“These grants help ensure the health and safety of everyone in our member communities,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “Our members are committed to protecting the health and safety of the people they care for and serve.”
McKnight’s Senior Living highlights LeadingAge’s new COVID vaccine grant initiative with HHS’ We Can Do This campaign (“Providers to Receive $250,000 for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics“), the latest in our ongoing efforts focused on keeping older adults and communities healthy. Quoting LeadingAge president and CEO Katie Smith Sloan, “Even as the COVID public health emergency nears its end, aging services providers remain committed to protecting the health and safety of the people they care for and serve,” the story includes the link provider members can use to request up to $15,000 to support vaccine clinic activities in their communities. Application deadline: February 24, 2023.
Weekly Reports to HHS on All Hands on Deck Efforts
LeadingAge continues to report weekly to HHS on All Hands on Deck, outlining all Association activity in support of the partnership forged with HHS and AHCA/NCAL to increase nursing home uptake of bivalent boosters.
January 05, 2023
Free COVID Tests for Older Adults as LeadingAge HHS Partnership Grows
Nursing Home Industry Reacts to White House COVID-19 Bivalent Booster Campaign
LeadingAge issues a joint statement with the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) with a commitment to continued efforts to increase booster rates in nursing home residents and family members.
September 08, 2022
Biden Administration Outlines Plan to Get Americans an Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Shot and Manage COVID-19 this Fall