Nursing homes will face weekly fines if they fail to submit COVID-19 case and death data to the federal government, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Thursday.
More nursing homes have complied with the data requirements, with 88% — or 13,600 — of Medicare and Medicaid facilities submitting data as of May 31. They recorded more than 95,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, another 58,000 suspected cases and nearly 32,000 deaths, CMS said. That data, which excludes assisted living facilities, was made public Thursday.
The facilities initially had until May 17 to report COVID-19 data, but CMS gave them a two-week grace period. Now, nursing homes will be fined $1,000 for for the first week they are delinquent, $1,500 for the following week and increasing penalties for weeks thereafter, Verma said during a call with reporters.
CMS on April 19 said nursing homes would have to make COVID-19 cases and death figures available to residents and their families and start reporting that data to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Nursing home reporting to the CDC is a critical component of the go-forward national COVID-19 surveillance system," Verma said at the time.
The database provides standardized information on nursing homes across the country, CMS said.
"Every state was doing this differently," Verma said.
CMS emphasized that the data released Thursday was preliminary, and Verma urged the public to "use caution when interpreting data in this early stage." New data will be shared in two weeks and then the releases will become weekly. Demographic information is not being collected.
Although it hasn't been verified, Verma said she thinks the data includes cumulative numbers on COVID-19 cases and deaths based on the numbers reported, even though the federal government didn't start requiring information until May. The data may differ from state level numbers because of how deaths are reported. In the CMS data, those who were transferred to a hospital from a nursing home and later died from COVID-19 are counted in nursing home figures.
The case information will be used both to inform the public and in CMS' enforcement of infection control deficiencies in nursing homes, CMS said.
"The vast majority of nursing homes across the country didn't have significant numbers of cases or any cases," Verma said. Hard-hit areas often included facilities with one-star quality ratings, she said. Roughly 25% of all nursing homes reported COVID-19 cases or deaths, Verma said.