CMS Releases New COVID-19 Testing and Reporting Requirements

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New CMS guidance outlines what triggers routine testing in nursing homes, and penalties for not reporting lab test data

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released updated guidance Sept. 8, 2020, related to COVID-19 testing and reporting requirements. This update outlines recent CMS actions and provides further clarification and guidance on these actions.

The new CMS testing and reporting guidance starts by highlighting the CMS’ COVID-19 training for nursing home staff and management and providing information on how to access and utilize this training. 

In the 21-pages of detail, CMS provides guidance on testing that should be performed on nursing home staff and residents, identifying three circumstances pertaining to COVID-19 testing triggers:

  1. Identification of a symptomatic individual;
  2. New COVID-19 cases in the facility; and
  3. Routine testing.

Routine testing is further explained according to different frequencies based on the local prevalence of COVID-19 cases, with testing frequency ranging from once a month to twice a week. The CMS document provides additional factors that facilities should take into consideration.

Also covered in the Sept. 8 COVID-19 testing and reporting requirements are the reporting methods for laboratory data elements. These include:

  • Reporting directly to state or local public health departments;
  • Reporting testing data to state and local public health departments through a centralized platform; and
  • Submitting laboratory testing data through a state or regional health information exchange (HIE).

This guidance also addresses SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests and provides information for these tests that nursing homes should take into consideration, including how to approach repeat testing and when confirmatory PCR testing is indicated.

The CMS guidelines also detail new reporting requirements for CLIA-certified facilities and emphasize that these requirements will be enforced. Penalties will be assessed for failure to report SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative results, according to CMS.

Clinical laboratory leaders who want to access the full document, which includes resources and how to access additional information, can find the details here.

Related Resources:

CMS: New COVID 19 Testing and Reporting Requirements


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