On Friday, March 13, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued a statement that waives the three-night hospital stay requirement for Medicare to pay for a patient’s stay at a skilled nursing facility (“SNF”). That means patients at a hospital no longer need to stay at a hospital for three nights in order for Medicare to pay for their stay at an SNF.
This waiver will likely cause SNF occupancy rates to rise as hospitals admit more COVID-19 cases and therefore must free up beds to handle their caseloads. Some experts, including those that conducted this Harvard study, fear that hospitals and SNFs may not have enough beds to handle all of the incoming cases. Additionally, not all admitted patients need a skilled level of care, and therefore, do not meet the requirements to be admitted into an SNF. Group homes could serve a vital role in helping patients with non-skilled needs get the care they need and free up beds at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.