CMS Allows Nursing Homes to Limit Visitations

Nursing homes are now allowed to restrict some visitations. McKnight’s reports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is making “very limited and rare exceptions” for nursing homes.

With the recent surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant, the three major nursing home associations made a special request to CMS to allow some restrictions for visits. Nursing homes asked for “more flexibility to temporarily limit, restrict, or prohibit visitors from entering the facility.”

On November 12, CMS announced nursing homes should allow visitors “for all residents at all times.” Last week the additional guidance for exceptions was added.

The American Health Care Association, AMDA and LeadingAge wrote their concerns to the administrator of CMS, “it appears that a facility is not permitted to place any restriction on visitation, regardless of staffing levels, community positivity rates, or severity of facility outbreak. We are concerned that the absolute, unconditional language may pose a risk to nursing homes and their residents, placing skilled nursing facilities in precarious situations when outbreaks occur.”

Some consumer advocates including the Center for Medicare Advocacy criticized CMS for loosening the rules stating, “many nursing facilities failed to follow CMS’s absolutely guidance in November and will exploit the December 23 FAQs to expand the ‘very limited and rare exceptions’ to bar or limit visitors.”

CMS clarified in their FAQs, “facilities may restructure the visitation policy, such as asking visitors to schedule their visit at staggered time-slots throughout the day, and/or limiting the number of visitors in the facility or a resident’s room at any time.” The Center for Medicaid Advocacy was quick to note that CMS did not provide guidance on what efforts facilities must make to “demonstrate that good faith efforts were made to facilitate visitation.”

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