SNFs can ask for three-month quality reporting reprieve

Skilled nursing facilities unable to provide data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's new quality reporting program will have a 90-day window to request an exception or extension, officials said during an Open Door Forum call Thursday.

Written requests for data submission exceptions or extensions are required to be sent within 90 days of “extraordinary circumstances” occurring that would prevent data submission. The data submission deadline for CMS' recently finalized quality measures is May 15, 2017.

The quality measures, announced last week as part of a barrage of policy changes for Medicare SNFs, include skin integrity and changes in skin integrity, changes in functional status and cognitive function and incidence of major falls. Providers who do not provide quality-indicator information by the deadline will face a 2% reduction to their fiscal year 2018 market basket payment.

CMS officials also provided an update to electronic staffing data submission guidelines. The definition of direct care worker, for the purpose of submitting staffing data, does not include workers who “maintain the physical environment” of a facility, said Evan Shulman, deputy director of the Division of Nursing Homes at CMS. That includes housekeeping staff. Other direct care positions, such as dieticians, are still being debated, Shulman said.