CMS Rolls Back COVID-19 Related Waivers – What that Means for Nursing Aides
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS enacted several temporary waivers in an effort to give health care providers flexibility to respond to the pandemic. On April 7, CMS announced that it would be phasing out some of these waivers and restoring minimum regulatory requirements to protect residents’ health and safety. CMS based its decision on increased vaccination rates for nursing home residents and staff, and nursing homes’ improved ability to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks coupled with recent long-term care (LTC) survey findings that “revealed significant concerns with resident care that are unrelated to infection control (e.g., abuse, weight-loss, depression, pressure ulcers, etc.).” As a result, in addition to other requirements, the standards for the training and certification of nurse aides and paid feeding assistants in skilled nursing facilities/nursing facilities (SNFs/NFs) will be restored on June 7, 2022.
CMS had waived the requirement that a SNF or NF not employ anyone as a nursing aide for longer than four months unless they met the training and certification requirements under 42 CFR §483.35(d). The elimination of that waiver effective June 7 means that all nurse aides, including those hired while the waiver was in effect, must become a certified nurse aide within four months, or no later than October 7, 2022, which involves completing 75 hours of training and passing a state certification test.