Communications Team

COVID-19 Vaccines and Monoclonal Antibody Infusion: Enforcement Discretion Relating to SNF Consolidated Billing

To facilitate the efficient administration of COVID-19 vaccines to Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) residents, CMS is exercising enforcement discretion with respect to statutory provisions requiring consolidated billing by SNFs as well as any associated statutory references and implementing regulations, including as interpreted in pertinent guidance. Through the exercise of this discretion, CMS will allow Medicare-enrolled …

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CMS Takes Further Steps to Ensure Medicare Beneficiaries Have Wide Access to COVID-19 Antibody Treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy, casirivimab and imdevimab, administered together, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients with positive COVID-19 test results who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. Casirivimab and imdevimab, administered …

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Report: The State of Obesity 2020

According to a report from Trust for America’s Health, the U.S. obesity rate for adults reached 42.4% in 2020, the highest ever recorded, and is based on data from the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The report notes that the national obesity rate has increased by 26% since 2008. Food insecurity due …

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Report: 20% of COVID Patients Develop Mental Health Issues

A new report published November in the Lancet found that those who have had COVID-19 are likely to develop anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within 90 days of recovery. The lack of contact with family members and loved ones during quarantine and hospital stays can produce psychological instability. Reports of PTSD symptoms …

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Policy Statement: AHA Recognizes Structural Racism as a Driver of Health Disparities

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently issued a policy statement in Circulation calling out structural racism as a major driver of health disparities in the U.S. The AHA acknowledged that while it had previously published statements addressing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk and disparities among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., those statements had not …

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Article: Whole-of-Government Response to Homelessness in the U.S.

A report by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) states that despite significant increases in funding and beds, overall homelessness has been increasing in the U.S. In just five years (2014-2019), unsheltered homelessness increased by 20.5%, and has become a national crisis. In 2020, Congress appropriated over $6.6 billion for targeted homelessness assistance …

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Article: Health Literacy Should Be Valued as a Social Driver of Poor Health Outcomes

Health literacy is the ability to understand and effectively use health information to make decisions about one’s health. People with low health literacy have increased mortality, worse health outcomes, are less engaged in their care, use the emergency room more often, and have higher avoidable healthcare expenditures. In this article, Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD – a …

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Resource: CMS Home and Community-Based Services Toolkit

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new toolkit designed for state Medicaid agencies to strengthen infrastructure and develop robust home and community-based services (HCBS) for eligible beneficiaries. The toolkit highlights promising state models and practices for strengthening state infrastructure to increase transitions from institutional settings to community-based settings; prevent or delay …

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Article: Mobile Apps for mHealth and People with Disabilities

A conference paper presented at the International Conference on Computers Helping People describes data and analysis on the use and unmet needs of mHealth mobile apps by people with disabilities in the U.S. The paper focuses on several key areas related to user experience in order to map the behavior, interests and needs of people …

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New Tool: Mapping Racial and Ethnic Inequities in Health and Opportunity

A new interactive mapping tool, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, allows users to view and compare data on a range of indicators for each state and for six racial and ethnic groups. The tool uses data aggregated by the Health Opportunity and Equity (HOPE) Initiative. According to their website, HOPE “provides an …

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CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Engagement Calls: December 2020

CMS hosts varied recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to the agency’s response to COVID-19. These sessions are open to members of the healthcare community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.  Call details …

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CMS Policies Give Medicare Beneficiaries More Choices around Surgery

CMS Memo | December 3, 2020 – Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is finalizing policy changes that will give Medicare patients and their doctors greater choices to get care at a lower cost in an outpatient setting. The Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) final rules will …

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Dec. 2 Update: CDC National Quarantine Guidance

Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing CDC Science & Research | December 2, 2020 – Quarantine can be a burden on public health systems and communities, potentially dissuading people from naming contacts. Reducing the length of quarantine will reduce the burden and may increase …

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CMS Call on December 2: Physician Fee Schedule

Wednesday, December 2, 11AM EDT Please join CMS for a National Stakeholder call on the recently announced Physician Fee Schedule.  The call will take place today on Wednesday, December 2 at 11:00 AM Eastern. Toll-Free Attendee Dial In: 888-455-1397 | Conference ID: 5796036 Resources Physician Fee Schedule Press Release Fact Sheet: CY 2021 Physician Fee …

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Finalized Permanent Expansion of Medicare Telehealth Services and Improved Payment for Time Doctors Spend with Patients

CMS Memo | December 1, 2020 – Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the annual Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule, prioritizing CMS’ investment in primary care and chronic disease management by increasing payments to physicians and other practitioners for the additional time they spend with patients, especially those with chronic …

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National Handwashing Awareness Week: December 6-12, 2020

Clean hands save lives! This awareness week highlights the importance of handwashing—one of the most effective and simple ways to prevent viral infections and improve health outcomes. December is a busy time for most people. Between the abrupt changes in weather, holiday gatherings, and the end-of-year rush, it is easy for immune systems to be …

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National Influenza Vaccination Week: December 6-12, 2020

This national awareness week focuses on highlighting the importance of influenza vaccination. The IPRO QIN-QIO raises awareness about flu risks and encourages everyone to protect themselves and their communities by getting vaccinated—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during last year’s (2018-19) flu season: 35.5 million people …

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Supporting Healthy Minds for Wisdom Keepers

About 1 in every 3 American Indian/Alaska Native older adults, age 65 or older, is at risk for dementia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart health is closely connected to brain health. Wisdom Keeper Campaign To raise awareness about dementia and encourage elders to keep their minds and hearts healthy, the …

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HHS/ASPR Training to Help Older Adults During a Disaster

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) developed the Addressing the Needs of Older Adults in Disasters web-based training. HHS/ASPR designed this free, publicly accessible course to improve public health and emergency medical responders’ capability to address the access and functional needs of community-dwelling older …

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Behavioral Health Resources for Indian Country

For more resources on supporting the behavioral health of elders and Indian Country as a whole, explore the new CMS Tribal Behavioral Health. Who is it for? This site is intended for people seeking behavioral health care for themselves or loved ones, health care providers, tribal leaders, and tribal health directors who would like to …

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CMS Comprehensive Strategy: Enhance Hospital Capacity Amid COVID-19 Surge

Agency outlines flexibilities to maximize Acute Hospital Care at Home, Ambulatory Surgical Centers to decompress hospitals treating COVID-19 patients CMS Memo | November 25, 2020 – Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined unprecedented comprehensive steps to increase the capacity of the American health care system to provide care to patients outside …

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Reducing Loneliness for Nursing Home Residents

As the pandemic continues, the behavioral health of nursing home residents continues to be a concern. A new survey of nursing home residents by Altarum looked into how residents’ lives changed due to the pandemic. The survey found social interactions inside and outside of nursing homes have dropped sharply. More than half of the respondents …

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CMS Announces Historic Changes to Physician Self-Referral Regulations

CMS Memo | November 22, 2020 – Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized changes to outdated federal regulations that burdened health care providers with added administrative costs and impeded the health care system’s move toward value-based reimbursement. The Physician Self-Referral Law, also known as the “Stark Law,” generally prohibits a physician …

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Earn Free CE: CDC’s Online Antibiotic Stewardship Training

This U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, register for CDC’s FREE online antibiotic stewardship training course, which offers 10 hours of continuing education (CE) to help you improve antibiotic use and protect patients. The first module is now updated with the latest national antibiotic resistance data from CDC’s recently released report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United …

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CMS Request for Application: Value in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Initiative

CMS is announcing the Request for Application (RFA) open period (November 19, 2020 to January 3, 2021) for the Value in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment (ViT) Initiative The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) is announcing the Request for Application (RFA) for a new initiative that …

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CMS Nursing Home Podcast Series for Front Line Clinicians and Staff

CMS Beyond the Policy: Nursing Home Series for Frontline Clinicians and Staff The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is airing the first episode in a series of short podcasts for frontline nursing home staff. The series is designed to reinforce training and infection control practices in nursing homes to help combat the spread …

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CMS Urging Nursing Homes to Follow Established COVID-19 Guidelines This Holiday Season

CMS Memo | November 19, 2020 – Today, in advance of the approaching holiday season, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is urging nursing home staff, residents, and visitors to follow established guidelines for visitation and adherence to the core principles of infection prevention. These guidelines include: Remaining six feet apart from individuals …

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2020 NIH Rural Health Seminar on Nov. 19

Rural Health Challenges in the Era of COVID-19 November 19, 1-5PM EDT Presented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this seminar explores the impact of COVID-19 on rural populations, systems and workforce issues, and community engagement to respond to the pandemic.  Attendees MUST register prior to the presentation.

CMS to Celebrate the Power of Rural

Rural communities face their own unique challenges when it comes to accessing and receiving quality health care. Approximately 60 million Americans live in rural areas, with nearly every state having at least one rural county. Research has shown that rural Americans are disproportionately affected by certain health conditions compared to their urban counterparts due to factors …

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Making Community Connections: Supporting Safe Transitions During COVID-19

December 9, 11-11:45 AM EDT Partnerships are critical to ensure a patient’s safe transition of care—especially during a public health emergency. Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, an adequate PPE supply and access to testing are essential but not always enough. Equally important are our partnerships with providers of healthcare in our community. This virus …

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CMS Releases Nursing Home COVID-19 Training Data with Urgent Call to Action

Agency thanks nursing homes whose staff have completed free CMS training, but urges remaining homes to take advantage of this resource CMS Memo | November 18, 2020 – Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is publicly recognizing the 1,092 nursing homes at which 50% or more of their staff have completed CMS …

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New infection control and PPE resources for home and congregate care workers

Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety released a new video and suite of resources about infection control and PPE for home care and congregate care workers on the front lines of COVID-19. Stay Safe! Your Guide to Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Brazilian Portuguese. We know that …

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Rapid eMOLST Implementation to Facilitate Advance Care Planning During COVID-19 Pandemic

The article Rapid Implementation of eMOLST Order Completion and Electronic Registry to Facilitate Advance Care Planning: MOLST Documentation Using Telehealth in the Covid-19 Pandemic was posted on the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst on Tuesday November 3. The article discusses seven lessons learned during the rapid implementation of eMOLST at Mount Sinai Health System …

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CMS Will Retire the Original Compare Tools on December 1

CMS will retire the original Compare Tools on December 1. Use Medicare.gov’s Care Compare to find and compare health care providers. In early September, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released Care Compare on Medicare.gov, which streamlines our eight original health care compare tools.  Since then, you’ve had the opportunity to use and …

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U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week: November 18-24, 2020

This annual observance highlights necessary steps everyone should take to improve antibiotic prescribing and use. Antibiotics save lives, but any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance. In U.S. doctors’ offices and emergency departments, at least 47 million antibiotic prescriptions each year are unnecessary, which makes improving antibiotic …

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Know the connection between Diabetes and Kidney Disease

34 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 3 of them also has chronic kidney disease. Once your kidneys have been damaged by diabetes, they cannot be cured. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and today is World Diabetes Day, making now the perfect time to learn how you can prevent diabetic kidney disease or …

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Understanding the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program

The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care (LTC) Program provides end-to-end management of the COVID-19 vaccination process, including cold chain management, on-site vaccinations, and fulfillment of reporting requirements. The program facilitates safe vaccination of this patient population, while reducing burden on long-term care facilities (LTCFs) and jurisdictional health departments.   LTCF staff who have not received COVID-19 …

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COVID-19 Vaccine Codes and PC-ACE Software Update

In anticipation of the availability of a vaccine(s), for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the American Medical Association (AMA), working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), created new codes for the vaccine and the administration of the vaccine.  To prepare for the vaccine administration claims, …

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CMS Takes Steps to Ensure Medicare Beneficiaries Have Wide Access to COVID-19 Antibody Treatment

Coverage Available at No Cost to Beneficiaries Across Variety of Settings in Health Care System The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that starting November 13, Medicare beneficiaries can receive coverage of monoclonal antibodies to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with no cost-sharing during the public health emergency (PHE). CMS’ coverage of monoclonal antibody …

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November 16: Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Enrollment Webinar

November 16, 3PM EDT Want to help people with Medicare stay healthy and prevent diabetes? Become a Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) supplier. As a supplier, you’ll help people with Medicare make lasting behavior changes through group-based training & individual support. There have been some changes to the MDPP enrollment process due to COVID-19. Specifically, the emergency …

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Take Action Against Diabetes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) is recognizing National Diabetes Month in November. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it. Diabetes occurs because …

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CMS Webinar on Nov. 12: NTP Medicare Update & Education Webinar

November 12, 1-2:30PM EDT Join us as we share updates related to this year’s Marketplace Open Enrollment. Learn what you need to know if you have a Marketplace Plan and become eligible for Medicare. After registration, you’ll get an email with a calendar appointment. This webinar will be recorded. You don’t need to register to …

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National Family Caregivers Month

National Family Caregivers Month, celebrated each November, is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. In November, the IPRO QIN-QIO is celebrating the efforts of family caregivers, supporting stronger relationships with loved ones, and raising awareness of the role that family caregivers play in the care of aging relatives and those …

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COVID-19 Workshop on November 12: Building Patient Trust

Thursday, November 12, 10:30-11AM EDT During this conversation, we will discuss a three-pronged approach that organizations can adopt to build patient trust and rise to the challenges of health care consumerism as redefined by COVID-19. Join us and learn to: Develop an effective and comprehensive data strategy Derive deep insights from robust quantitative and comment …

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CMS Releases Toolkit to Accelerate State Efforts to Rebalance Long-term Care Systems and Enhance Home and Community-Based Services for Eligible Medicaid Beneficiaries

The Trump Administration and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are delivering on their commitment to foster innovation in Medicaid by providing states with new tools to help beneficiaries return home from institutional settings without sacrificing safety or quality of care.   Today, CMS launched a new toolkit designed for state Medicaid agencies to strengthen …

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CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Engagement Calls for November

CMS hosts varied recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to the agency’s response to COVID-19. These sessions are open to members of the healthcare community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts. Call details …

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Webinars: November Health Equity Events

Serving Low-Income Seniors: Lessons and the Impact of COVID-19 November 6, 12–1PM EDT The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on both low-income communities and seniors in the U.S. This briefing will provide an overview of the complex ecosystem of federal, state, and private programs that coexist to integrate medical, LTSS, and …

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Report: Achieving a Cohesive Culture for Health Equity in Latino and All Communities

Salud America! and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are sharing a research review summarizing current literature on: the social and health impact of poverty the impact of racism and bias on minorities those living in poverty It highlights emerging interventions, policies, and practices that can be implemented to alleviate poverty, improve social cohesion, reduce bias, and …

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Resource: NIH COVID-19 Communities Responding Together

Community leaders can play a vital role in connecting their communities with important, accurate information about public health and clinical research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and The Community Engagement Alliance offers resources that can help organizations talk with their communities about COVID-19, the vaccines being developed, and the importance of minorities being included …

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Initiative: RWJBarnabas Health Launches Social Determinants of Health Initiative

New Jersey-based RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) has launched a culturally tailored and fully integrated initiative to address social determinants of health (SDOH). RWJBH has partnered with NowPow, a digital community referral platform, and ConsejoSano, a patient engagement platform that specializes in linguistically and culturally tailored outreach, to develop a program that screens every patient for SDOH, …

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Report: How States Can Advance Health Equity & Address Health System Costs

Budget limitations, systemic racism and a mandate to contain costs while maintaining access to quality care have been long-standing challenges for states. According to a National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) report, the rising cost of health care, particularly for racial/ethnic minorities, has created a barrier to accessing quality care. In 2018, 13% of …

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Report: 2020 National Quality Forum Report

The National Quality Forum (NQF) recently released a report Improving Diagnostic Quality and Safety/ Reducing Diagnostic Error: Measurement Considerations funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The NQF convened a multi-stakeholder committee to identify recommendations for the practical application of the Diagnostic Process and Outcomes domain of the 2017 Diagnostic Quality and …

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Report: Tracking FY2019 Federal Funding to Combat the Opioid Crisis

The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report in September that tracks spending to address the opioid epidemic across the federal government for fiscal year 2019. The report provides insight into how funds are being spent at the state and county-level. Reports from states and counties across the country suggest opioid-involved overdose deaths are rising in …

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Article: Women Get Worse Care for Heart Attacks with Cardiogenic Shock

A study published in Circulation: Heart Failure concluded that women age 18-55 with Acute Myocardial Infarction – Cardiogenic Shock (AMI-CS), are treated less aggressively and experience higher in-hospital mortality compared to men. Cardiogenic shock (CS) is the leading cause of death in patients with AMI who reach the hospital alive, with mortality rates greater than …

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CMS’ New One-Stop Nursing Home Resource Center Assists Providers, Caregivers, Residents

October 30, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new online platform – the Nursing Home Resource Center – to serve as a centralized hub bringing together the latest information, guidance and data on nursing homes that is important to facilities, frontline providers, residents and their families, especially as the …

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