HHS Announces $2B in Infection Control Incentive Payments

Regulation | September 04, 2020 | by Nicole Fallon

HHS announced September 3 that it will begin tracking nursing home performance on two infection control measures and distributing $500 million per month in performance-based incentive payments from the Provider Relief Fund to nursing homes who meet a certain performance threshold. The first payments will be issued in October based upon September performance.

 

The performance-based incentive payments represent $2 billion of the $5 billion SNF Infection Control Distribution from the Provider Relief Funds. 

HHS will measure nursing homes on two outcomes:

  • Ability to keep new COVID infection rates low among residents
  • Ability to keep COVID mortality low among residents. (we are told this measure will be more lightly weighted than the prior measure and will be risk adjusted).

Performance will be assessed using each nursing home’s COVID infection and mortality rates as reported in NHSN LTCF COVID-19 data and comparing them to a community baseline based upon CDC county-level data on total confirmed and suspected COVID 19 infections per capita and test positivity rates in the community. The HHS announcement contains no further details regarding the formulas or specific calculations to be used. HHS has indicated in other communications that it will be looking to risk adjust the mortality rates and more details will be shared soon. 

Nursing homes will not need to apply To be eligible for the incentive payments, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities must have an active state certification and:

  • Must receive reimbursement from CMS (Medicare/Medicaid)
  • Must be in good standing (no revocation, terminations, expirations of certification or enrollment)
  • Must report to at least one of these three data sources: CASPER, Nursing Home Compare or Provider of Services (POS)

There will be four, monthly peformance periods September - December 2020 with $500 million being sent each month to nursing homes who do well at containing spread of COVID-19 and minimizing COVID-19 mortality.

For nursing homes who receive these incentive payments, the use of these funds will be governed by the same terms and conditions as the $2.5 billion SNF Infection Control Distribution that was sent out to providers in late August. This means the funds can only be used for "infection control expenses" such as PPE, testing, reporting test results, hiring staff for patient care or administrative support, and providing additional services to residents.