Texas receives $9 million in federal funding to implement COVID-19 infection control projects in nursing homes


By Bethany Blankley

Texas nursing homes can now submit applications to the state Department of Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to receive federal funding to implement infection control projects. Texas has received $9 million from the federal government to help nursing homes protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19.

"We know that older Texans are more susceptible to COVID-19, and Texas is committed to ensuring that nursing facilities have the tools they need to keep their residents and staff safe," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.

Approved providers eligible to receive funding will be able to use the money to purchase thermometers and temperature scanning equipment for staff and residents, decontamination and disinfecting systems, plexiglass barriers or portable walls to ensure social distancing and droplet protection, N95 fit-test equipment, and microbe-resistant flooring and wall coverings.

For more details on how to apply, nursing home providers are encouraged to go to the Texas HHS website. The deadline to submit applications is Aug. 30.

HHSC is continuing to accept applications for communication technology in nursing facilities. In May, Texas received roughly $3.6 million in federal funding to be made available to nursing home facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to virtually connect senior residents with their loved ones while the facilities remain closed during the state’s coronavirus response.

Each eligible facility can receive up to $3,000 to be used to purchase electronic devices and accessories like headphones and protective covers. Purchased devices must be cleaned and disinfected between every use by a resident, the state says, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines.

HHSC continues to work closely with long-term care providers statewide and has issued multiple guidance letters, emergency rules and alerts, and rule waivers, the governor’s office states. HHSC also regularly updates its FAQs for nursing facilities.

Noncompliant or fraudulent claims will be prosecuted, according to the federal government. CMS imposes Civil Money Penalty (CMP) funds against Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing facilities found out of compliance with federal requirements.

HHSC is using CMP funds for the infection control and connectivity projects. However, CMP funds can also be used for projects and activities that benefit nursing facility residents by improving their quality of care or quality of life, HHSC says.

HHSC is currently only accepting and reviewing applications for COVID-19-related projects, including infection control and communication technology.

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