The current SNF coverage decisions, under the COVID-19 Section 1135 Waivers, allow providers to render skilled services to LTC residents, considered “skilling in place.” It is important to note that the previous requirements for skilled care need as defined in Chapter 8, Section 30 of the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual remain unchanged.
The quality of our documentation should not change regardless of payer; however, when an 1135 waiver is evoked, extensive care should be taken to document the reasoning for the initiation of the Part A benefit (e.g., change in condition) and why the qualifying event (e.g., 3 day hospital stay or wellness period) was waived. According to CMS FAQs regarding the waivers, if “continued skilled care need…is unrelated to the COVID-19 emergency, then the beneficiary cannot renew his or her SNF benefits.”
Relation to the emergency may include:
- early hospital discharge due to resource need or
- avoiding hospital transfer due to exposure risk.
Documentation is our defense when under review—as we continue to provide care to our residents, educate nursing and therapy to demonstrate the complexity, sophistication, and medical necessity of the services provided throughout the episode of care. Our services have a positive impact on many areas of the patient’s life. It’s important that the work we do with each of them carries over onto paper to fortify defensibility following this pandemic and to ensure our patients continue to have access to quality care.
Review the Medicare Part A waive memo here.
Review CMS FAQs for 1135 waivers here. (SNF Services may be found on pages 34-35)
AHCA Waiver Application Decision Making Flowcharts: