Nursing homes will need to start submitting staffing data again starting Aug. 14 after a temporary CMS waiver expires.
CMS plans to end the emergency blanket waiver issued in response to COVID-19 that paused the submission of staffing data through the Payroll-Based Journal system, according to a news release Thursday.
"The blanket waiver was intended to temporarily allow the agency to concentrate efforts on combating COVID-19 and reduce administrative burden on nursing homes so they could focus on patient health and safety during this public health emergency," CMS said.
But CMS said the data will be collected again because "we continue to emphasize the importance of staffing based on its relationship to quality."
Despite the waiver, about 60% of nursing homes still submitted staffing information for the first quarter, and CMS urges others to file that information as well. Data collected will be posted on data.cms.gov.
Because information about staffing was not being collected, CMS will not update staffing measures and star ratings on Nursing Home Compare. Facilities ratings' in the July 29 release will be based on information submitted for the fourth quarter of 2019, CMS said in a memorandum to state officials and nursing home stakeholders. Staffing measures and ratings will be updated instead in October.
CMS also will remove automatic one-star ratings downgrades for facilities that missed deadlines for submissions or that reported not having a registered nurse on staff for four or more days because those facilities "now will not have the opportunity to correct and improve their staffing rating since the ratings will be held constant."
"We recognize that the waiver of the requirement prevented some facilities from improving their rating from their previous quarter's submission," CMS said in the memorandum.
The agency also will not update quality measures in its star rating system on July 29 because requirements for submitting resident assessment information also were waived. The ratings can still be updated based on data from before the end of 2019.
CMS also noted that it wants to restart inspections as soon as possible.