The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put out new guidance for nursing home residents, recommending they don’t leave their facilities for outside visits.

What You Need To Know

  • CMA new recommendation contradicts AHCA guidance

  • AHCA says residents must have permission to leave facilities

  • Residents are not encouraged to leave their facilities

This recommendation is in direct conflict with the latest guidance from the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), which oversees long-term care facilities (LTCs) in Florida.

Just a few weeks ago, AHCA released clarification for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ most recent LTC visitation order, saying residents must be permitted to leave facilities, including for holiday visits.

Spectrum News reached out to AHCA and was told the agency’s guidance regarding visits still stands, despite the CMS recommendations.

AHCA also provided the following statement:

“While the CMS recommendations encourage nursing home residents to not leave their facility, it acknowledges this will occur and provides guidance for those leaving including social distancing, remaining in small groups, mask use, and other precautions. These recommendations are consistent with information in the AHCA FAQ. The AHCA FAQ also directed facilities to monitor for additional updates. The Agency shared the CMS ​memo with all long-term care facilities as newly released guidance.”  

For more insight, we reached out to family advocate Mary Daniel, who is not only on the Governor’s long-term care task force, but also helped AHCA with its latest guidance.

Cait McVey: “We’re hearing from CMS the exact opposite of what the sate has put out.”

Mary Daniel: “See, I don’t necessarily see it that way.  All of these are recommendations. It’s what they’re saying they would like for us to do. I don’t think that has any bearing on changing anything in the state order.”

Cait McVey: “How important is the word recommend in this case?”

Mary Daniel: “It’s hugely important. This is telling me this is what they’re recommending but it doesn’t tell me this is what I have to do. If we really dig into this and see what it’s saying, it’s telling us the risk, it’s telling us you can do it, but you need to be extremely careful.”

Cait McVey: “What do you have to say to people who are watching the numbers climb here in Florida and feel because this is a vulnerable population, it’s not wise to take them home for the Holidays?”

Mary Daniel: “Why do we believe that staying in a facility with people coming and going, and I’m speaking particularly of the staff, why is that safer than being in my own home with just me? That’s an assumption that I don’t by into that. This can be done safely.  It really can.”

Daniel advises families to already be looking ahead to December and reaching out to facilities now, rather than waiting until the last minute.  She also recommends contacting AHCA directly, should a facility indicate it won’t be following the state order.