HHS Expands Coverage for Point-of-Care COVID-19 Tests in Nursing Homes

This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an extension of coverage for prescribing and administering point-of-care COVID-19 tests in congregate facilities, including skilled nursing facilities. The extension of coverage comes under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act and overrules any state restrictions or bans on such tests.

 

HHS is sending point-of-care antigen test devices and an initial round of tests to every skilled nursing facility in the U.S. with a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver. Licensed healthcare practitioners at these facilities can administer and provide the FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests to both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals at congregate facilities.

 

These point-of-care antigen test should be administered within five days of presenting symptoms, but a positive result is a reliable source for screening asymptomatic people in skilled nursing facilities. In congregate settings, like nursing homes, rapid point-of-care testing may be better for infection control than less frequent, highly sensitive testing with a longer turnaround.

 

Overall, skilled nursing providers have had positive reactions to this new coverage. Although some are still concerned about the variance in testing guidance from the FDA, CDC, and CMS, rapid point-of-care testing seems to be the best option for skilled nursing facilities currently.

 

Read the full article from Skilled Nursing News.

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