September 29, 2020

CMS provides guide to streamline process to receive COVID-19 test kits

Kimberly Bonvisstuo McKnight Senior Living

The Department of Health and Human Services is sending 541,000 COVID-19 test kits to 5,500 assisted living communities with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certificates of waiver. 

The federal government has released new tools meant to reduce paperwork and streamline the certification application process for assisted living providers seeking certification waivers to be able to receive COVID-19 tests from the government for their communities.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday posted a quick-start guide to walk operators through the application process for CLIA certification. It includes information on the expedited review process and access to online payments.

“We appreciate CMS creating avenues to expedite the CLIA certification process so assisted living communities can be eligible to receive the Abbott point-of-care antigen tests,” National Center for Assisted Living Executive Director Scott Tittle told McKnight’s Senior Living. “The ability to frequently test residents and staff and receive reliable, rapid results is paramount. Anything the federal government can do to streamline this testing support is very much appreciated.”

Once providers identify a qualified laboratory director and provide all required information, the government will assign a CLIA number. The number means that a provider is considered to be a CLIA-certified waived laboratory and can begin testing. 

“An obscure process and outdated modes of payment have too often caused needless delays in certifying lab testing facilities,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in the agency’s announcement. “Today’s announcement will allow testing laboratories to promptly and painlessly register with CMS so they can get to work, focusing on providing reliable information to combat the spread of this disease.”

In an update to members, the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living said that replenishment of test kits will be sent weekly after the initial shipments of kits, with kit numbers based on facility size and COVID-19 positivity rates in the county.

Providers that wish to become CLIA-certified can view a brochure from CMS and HHS and submit an application form to the state where the provider applying is locate

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