Massachusetts Governor Baker Announces COVID-19 Nursing Home Package
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the Nursing Facility Accountability and Supports Package 2.0 in September, a package aimed at helping nursing homes deal with COVID-19. At least 5,540 people have suffered COVID-19 related deaths in Massachusetts nursing homes, according to state data.
“The Nursing Facility Accountability and Supports Package 2.0 continues our financial support and oversight initiated in the spring, and marks the first step in addressing the policy recommendations of the Nursing Facility Taskforce to protect resident safety, ensure access to high quality facilities, right-size the industry, and hold facilities to higher standards for both patient care and investment in the direct care workforce,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services and Head of the COVID-19 Command Center. “These reforms and investments will improve the quality of care and safety of residents in anticipation of a potential COVID-19 resurgence in the fall, and for the health of residents in the future.”
“We applaud Health and Human Services Secretary Sudders and Governor Baker for proposing a fundamental redesign on the state’s nursing facility funding system,” said the Massachusetts Senior Care Association’s president, Tara Gregorio. “Under the reforms, the state is clearly prioritizing the health and safety of our residents and their caregivers and we look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to further these efforts today and in the years to come.”
Nursing Home Package Components
The nursing home package includes five components:
Mandates to strengthen staffing and the workforce, ensure social distancing and improve care standards
Nursing homes will need to meet minimum hours per patient day staffing levels and invest at least three quarters of their revenue towards the cost of direct care staff. Nursing homes will need to make sure social distancing occurs in multi-bed rooms and improve infection control standards and the quality of life of residents.
An $82 million investment
An $82 million investment is being made into a rate structure which incentivizes high quality care, high occupancy and care for special populations such as those with substance use disorder or severe mental health diagnoses.
Up to $60 million of targeted funding for COVID-19 purposes
Most of this funding will only be used if infections in the state rise and nursing homes experience staffing shortages. The funding will also be used for surveillance testing and COVID-19 isolation spaces.
Sustained monitoring and oversight
The state will continue monitoring nursing homes regarding infection control, staffing and management, requiring nursing homes to report on staffing metrics like hours per patient day.
Quick response to issues
The state will proactively respond to issues with rapid response staffing teams, corrective measures, enforcement actions and more.