Published September 21, 2020
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Some long-awaited good news is on the way for nursing home residents on Medicare.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued updated guidance about nursing home visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitation had been largely restricted for several months due to a number of nursing homes becoming virus hot spots and because of the increased vulnerability of senior citizens developing symptoms from the disease.
“While we must remain steadfast in our fight to shield nursing home residents from this virus, it is becoming clear that prolonged isolation and separation from family is also taking a deadly toll on our aging loved ones.” - CMS Administrator Seema Verma1
With increased availability of data to guide policy development, CMS has encouraged nursing homes to facilitate outdoor visitation to allow residents to visit with their loved ones in a way that reduces the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.
Medicare announced nursing homes may also permit indoor visits if no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the facility in the last 14 days. Facilities may be subject to additional requirements for indoor visitation.
The re-opening of nursing homes for indoor visitation prioritizes those residents experiencing “compassionate care,” which can include:
The extended separation of nursing home residents and their family members has taken a significant toll.
“We believe nursing homes should be able to resume visitations reuniting residents with their families within the recommendations outlined in our guidance,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.1
In March, the CMS restricted nursing home visitation to only residents receiving compassionate care services. In May, the organization released reopening recommendations that outlined the various phases of safely reopening.
Learn more about Medicare news and how the COVID-19 pandemic affects beneficiaries.
1 CMS. (Sep. 17, 2020). CMS Announces New Guidance for Safe Visitation in Nursing Homes During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-new-guidance-safe-visitation-nursing-homes-during-covid-19-public-health-emergency.