A federal-state COVID-testing conundrum is being tested in New York, drawing the interest of providers nationwide.

New York providers have called on state officials to end weekly COVID-19 testing and reporting requirements for fully-vaccinated and recently recovered nursing home workers in a bid to reduce “excessive” documentation burdens. 

LeadingAge New York issued the appeal on Monday in a letter to the state’s Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker, M.D.. The goal is to ease the twice-weekly testing requirement for nursing home workers, which applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff.

Federal health officials in late April announced that fully vaccinated nursing home workers do not have to be routinely tested for COVID-19, while leaving testing recommendations unchanged for long-term care workers who are unvaccinated. 

The organization argued that New York should reduce the frequency of testing for fully-vaccinated workers to better align with federal recommendations. 

“At a time when providers are experiencing unprecedented administrative and clinical demands and staffing shortages, it is misguided to impose unnecessary and onerous testing and reporting burdens on them,” wrote James Clyne Jr., LeadingAge NY President and CEO. “These testing and reporting requirements divert valuable staff time from resident and patient care.” 

The group called on the state to reduce the frequency and volume of COVID-19 data it collects from nursing homes and other providers and rely on similar data that facilities are already submitting to the federal National Health Care Safety Network. New York providers are also currently required to submit daily reports to the state in multiple data fields, including resident COVID cases and deaths, inventory burn rates of personal protective equipment and number of residents and staff who are vaccinated. 

“It is extraordinarily stressful for these busy leaders to set aside all resident care (and family care) responsibilities for several hours, seven days a week to make sure all of these data are collected and entered accurately and timely,” Clyne wrote. 

“The extraordinary burdens of reporting and the Department’s aggressive response to even minor lapses in meeting deadlines has deterred some providers from conducting on-site COVID tests and enrolling as vaccine providers,” he said. 

Clyne added the state should “reconsider its COVID-related data needs and collect only those data that are unduplicated and necessary and at a frequency justified by public health considerations.”