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CMS Administrator Seema Verma, in Clearwater for Roundtable, Praises State’s LTC Reopening Plan

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma took center stage at a roundtable discussion in Clearwater Thursday, on local impacts of COVID-19.

What You Need To Know

  • Seema Verma praises long-term care reopening recommendations
  • Some experts say reopening facilities at a large scale level is premature
  • More Coronavirus headlines

Verma, who was joined by members of Bay Area health and long-term care communities, started with praise for the long-term care reopening recommendations Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on earlier this week.

“I can tell you right now, we’re working on this as well,” Verma said. “And we’re reviewing what Florida has done and that will help us as we’re developing our policy for the whole country.”

But experts say reopening facilities at a large scale level is premature.  Just two weeks ago, the American Health Care Association released a report showing nursing home COVID-19 case numbers have surpassed the peak set in May and in a recent paper published in the journal “Health Affairs,” experts found one in five nursing homes are still reporting staffing and PPE shortages.

It’s information that recently​ caught the attention of lawmakers, as Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania sent this letter to Vice President Mike Pence, CDC Director Robert Redfield and Verma.

We brought the letter up to Verma in a one-on-one interview following the roundtable, during which she called the data outdated. 

“Our efforts tot make sure nursing homes have the supplies that they need have been from the very beginning,” Verma said. “That’s why we set up the reporting system and I think that report is something that was written based on data from a long time ago.”

The data is actually from that very same CMS reporting system and its numbers show as recently as mid-August, more than 3,000 nursing homes nationwide are without a week’s supply of PPE.  In total, 124 of them are right here in Florida.

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