Florida could serve as a template for the federal government’s national strategy for reopening nursing homes, believes Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. 

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis (R) last week announced the state’s limited reopening plan for long-term care facilities. The guidance calls for facilities to allow general visitation if there are no new COVID-19 cases for at least 14 days. Visitors are also required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Verma praised the state’s plans during a roundtable discussion with Tampa-area healthcare leaders last week.

“I can tell you right now, we’re working on this as well,” Verma said. “And we’re reviewing what Florida has done and that will help us as we’re developing our policy for the whole country.”

In March, CMS guidance banned all visitor access from nursing homes to combat and limit the spread of COVID-19 in facilities. The agency later issued visitation guidelines for providers in late June.

Multiple states within the last several months have begun to reopen long-term care facilities to visitors under strict guidelines, which include offering outdoor in designated spaces, supervised indoor visits, and requiring masks and social distancing.