FAQ’s (June 2020)

(Section) Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IIDs)
How should an ICF handle the discharge summary when a client is admitted on a temporary emergency basis from the community or another ICF?
Answer: Regulations regarding ICF/IID discharge have not been waived. A discharge, even on a temporary emergency basis, requires that key developmental, behavioral, social, health and nutritional information be shared with the accepting facility in the community or non-facility provider. CMS is aware that staffing shortages and/or client surges due to the PHE create a high demand on available staff time that makes it difficult to complete a full discharge summary for each client. Each ICF will need to evaluate what amount and detail of documentation is necessary to ensure that critical health information is shared with the accepting facility or other provider. When available and if appropriate, the Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) should maximize the use of telehealth for the completion of a client’s discharge plan during the PHE.

How should an ICF handle the development of a Comprehensive Functional Assessment (CFA) and an Individual Program Plan (IPP) when a client is admitted on a temporary emergency basis from the community or another ICF?
Answer: Clients who are admitted on a temporary emergency basis to an ICF during the PHE will nonetheless continue to need to have a Comprehensive Functional Assessment (CFA) and an Individual Program Plan (IPP) in accordance with 42 CFR 483.440(c). Completion of these documents will provide an opportunity for the IDT and staff to meet the basic and critical care needs of the client. CMS is aware that staffing shortages and/or client surges due to the PHEmay create a high demand on available staff time that makes it difficult to complete a full CFA and IPP. Each ICF will need to evaluate what amount and detail of documentation is necessary to ensure that critical health and treatment information is identified to allow active treatment during the PHE. This health and treatment information will support successful adjustment for the client to the new temporary living environment. When available and if appropriate, the IDT should maximize the use of telehealth for the development of a client’s IPP for temporary emergency admissions during the PHE.
During the PHE are ICFs still required to have and use a specially constituted committee or committees?
Answer: Yes. CMS believes that the use of this committee may be of value during the time of the COVID-19 PHE. The committee can provide an opportunity to support and make suggestions to facilities as they may need to adapt policies and procedures as well as why and how services are being provided to clients, which clients may find difficult to understand and potentially lead to inappropriate adaptive behavior. When available and if appropriate, the specially constituted committee should maximize the use of telecommunications to convene this committee as a resource to support the challenges faced by staff and clients during the PHE.
When a client has tested positive for COVID-19 and the ICF/IID implements quarantine procedures, client rights are immediately abridged and severe behaviors are likely to occur. What is the guidance from CMS on balancing the CDC expectations with the rights of the individual?
Answer: The health and safety of the clients, visitors, and staff at an ICF/IID are of the utmost importance for CMS. Based on the ICF Emergency Preparedness plan, and in accordance with the requirement at 42 CFR 483.440(c)(3)(v) that the IPP assess the client’s health status in the context of a COVID-19 diagnosis, the ICF/IID must revise the client’s IPP to reflect specific procedures and steps that will be taken to quarantine the client while also taking every step reasonable to protect the rights, safety, and health of the infected client, as well as those of the staff and other clients. ICF/IIDs are encouraged to use telehealth and assistive technology to minimize social isolation to the extent possible.
Are intermediate Care Facilities required to participate in the COVID-19 CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) reporting requirements?
Answer: ICF/IIDs do not have a regulatory requirement for the reporting of communicable diseases, healthcare-associated infections, and potential outbreaks to Federal (such as the CDC), State and/or local health departments. ICF/IIDs do have a requirement under 42 CFR 483.420(c)(6), which addresses communication to family and/or guardian when a client’s condition changes, including the onset of serious illness (such as COVID-19). Although reporting to CDC is not required, ICF/IIDs may voluntarily report COVID-19 cases to the CDC, and CMS encourages them to do so to facilitate public health tracking of the pandemic. You may find the following CDC resource links helpful:
Rural Health Clinics (RHC)/Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
Has CMS implemented any flexibilities to help RHCs and FQHCs respond to the PHE posed by COVID-19?
Answer: Yes. CMS has temporarily waived certain regulatory requirements providing flexibilities to assist RHCs and FQHCs in furnishing services during the COVID-19 PHE. This includes temporarily modifying the following:(a)50% mid-level staffing requirement for RHCs;(b)Physician supervision requirement for nurse practitioners (NPs), to the extent permitted by State law; and(c)Location requirements for existing RHCs and FQHC to allow additions of temporary service locations.Please see https://www.cms.gov/files/document/summary-covid-19-emergency-declaration-waivers.pdf for additional waiver information. Additional flexibilities, including guidance for RHCs and FQHCs furnishing telehealth services during the PHE, are also described in this CMS MLN Article: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/se20016.pdf

When do these flexibilities go into effect?
Answer: The flexibilities for staffing requirements, physician supervision of nurse practitioners, and temporary expansion sites are retroactively effective beginning March 1, 2020, through the end of the emergency declaration and CMS issues an end of outbreak notification.
Do these flexibilities apply to all RHCs and FQHCs?
Answer: The flexibilities for physician supervision of NPs apply to all RHCs and FQHCs, to the extent permitted by state law. Flexibilities to the 50% mid-level staffing requirement apply to RHCs only as the mid-level requirement is RHC specific. Lastly, flexibilities to the location requirement apply to existing RHCs and FQHCs.
How does the mid-level practitioner 50% flexibility benefit an RHC? Are RHCs required to submit any documentation to CMS for this waiver?
Answer: This waiver provides RHCs with flexibilities with regards to the percentage of operating hours the facility has a mid-level practitioner available to furnish patient care services. While the waiver offers flexibilities with staffing mixes, a physician, NP, physician assistant, certified nurse midwife, clinical social worker, or clinical psychologist must be available on site to furnish patient care services whenever the RHC is open and operating. CMS does not require any submission of documentation for this waiver.
How does the waiver affect the physician supervision of NPs?
Answer: During the PHE, NPs may function to the fullest extent possible without physician supervision, and to the extent of applicable state law. However, the physician continues to be responsible for providing the overall medical direction for the RHC/FQHC’s health care activities, consultation for, and medical supervision of all other health care staff, either in person or through telehealth and other remote communications.
41.Question: Can an RHC/FQHC provide patient care services at temporary locations?
Answer: Yes. During the COVID-19 PHE, CMS is allowing currently approved RHCs/FQHCs to provide patient care services in temporary expansion sites to help address the urgent need for supplementary care. These temporary sites are not restricted to the rural/shortage area location requirements. Each location is obligated to follow RHC/FQHC regulations to the extent not waived. Therefore, the RHC/FQHC may provide services provided at a temporary location under the CMS Certification Number (CCN) for the permanent location. The RHC/FQHC is expected to be operating in a manner not inconsistent with its state’s emergency preparedness plan. Note: FQHCs must also have an updated Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA) Notice of Award, expanding the scope of service to include the temporary location(s) to support response to the COVID-19 PHE.

Do these flexibilities apply to temporary locations established in a parking lot?
Answer: Yes. During the COVID-19 PHE, CMS is allowing RHC/FQHCs to establish temporary expansion sites in a parking lot; either on or off its premises. As with other temporary expansion locations, the parking lot site must meet the same RHC/FQHC regulations as the main site, unless otherwise waived. Therefore, the RHC/FQHC may provide for those services via the existing CCN of its approved permanent location. RHC/FQHC is expected to be operating in a manner not inconsistent with its state’s emergency preparedness plan.
Can an RHC/FQHC provide patient care services to a patient in the patient’s vehicle?
Response:During the COVID-19 PHE, to help minimize transmission, an RHC/FQHC visit can take place if the patient is in a vehicle on the premises of the RHC/FQHC and all requirements for a billable visit are met (e.g. medically-necessary, face-to-face visits with an RHC/FQHC practitioner). The RHC/FQHC would provide the services using its existing CCN. All services provided are held to all RHC/FQHC regulations, unless otherwise waived. This includes, but is not limited to, the provisions of services as per 42 CFR 491.9(c). RHCs/FQHCs must consider the clinical appropriateness of services before conducting a visit and/or treating a patient in their vehicle.
Will a RHC or FQHC seeking approval of its temporary location as being consistent with the emergency response and pandemic plan be provided with evidence of approval or denial from the state?
Answer: State emergency plans and processes will vary. RHCs/FQHCs should retain any communications with the State emergency preparedness representatives to demonstrate that its temporary location(s) are not inconsistent with the state emergency preparedness and pandemic plan for the COVID-19 PHE. Once the state has approved the addition of temporary location(s), there are no additional CMS enrollment or reporting requirements. The RHC/FQHC may begin utilizing the temporary expansion location throughout the duration of the COVID-19 PHE.
May an RHC or FQHC continue providing RHC/FQHC services at the temporary location once the COVID-19 PHE ends?
Answer: No. All waived CoPs, CfCs, requirements, and most temporarily revised regulations will terminate at the end of the PHE. If the RHC/FQHC wishes to continue services at the temporary expansion location after the PHE has ended, the facility must submit form 855A to begin the process of enrollment and initial certification as a RHC or FQHC under the regular process and meet all applicable requirements, including 42 CFR 491.5.
My RHC participates in Medicare through one of the two CMS-approved RHC Accreditation Organizations (AOs). Do waivers of CMS regulations apply to CMS-approved accrediting programs? Do I need to notify the AO of my desire to temporarily add a service location during the COVID-19 PHE?

Answer: The flexibilities apply to both accredited and non-accredited RHCs. Notifying your AO of the temporary location is recommended.
Where can I find answers to COVID-19 flexibilities regarding Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) billing for RHCs and FQHCs?
Answer: To assist RHCs and FQHCs in furnishing service during the COVID-19 PHE, CMS has provided additional flexibilities related to billing for services. These temporary flexibilities currently include Expansion of Virtual Communication Services for RHCs and FQHCs to include online digital evaluation and management services using patient portals, and Revision of Home Health Agency Shortage Area Requirement for Visiting Nursing Services Furnished by RHCs and FQHCs. Please see the Medicare FFS Billing FAQ document available at https://www.cms.gov/files/document/03092020-covid-19-faqs-508.pdf. Please see Section II.L of the Interim Final Rule with Comment Period, “Medicare and Expanded Flexibilities for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) Medicaid Programs; Policy and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) During Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-–19 Public Health Emergency (PHE)”(85 FR 19230, 19253), available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/06/2020-06990/medicare-and-medicaid-programs-policy-and-regulatory-revisions-in-response-to-the-covid-19-public, for more information on regulatory changes for RHCs and FQHCs.

Webinar info:  How to prevent infectious diseases and the spread of infectious diseases in ICF-Specifically COVID-19 (May 27th, 2020)

See the following pdf link from HHSC


March 13th ICF FAQ’s  See link below:

Survey Operations Resume as of June 15th, 2020

As of June 15, 2020, Survey Operations has begun to resume some normal survey activity, and Enforcement is also resuming enforcement processes and activities. This means we will be issuing various due process notice letters to individuals, agencies, and facilities that have been on hold due to COVID.
Please contact Enforcement Director Derek Jakovich by email at derek.jakovich@hhsc.state.tx.us if you have questions.
In response to questions regarding what normal survey and enforcement activities are resuming as of June 15 and what programs are affected, HHSC replied as follows:
As of June 15, 2020 Survey Operations is resuming some survey activity such as complaints with lower priorities, and possibly some licensure and certification surveys. For Enforcement, due process notice letters such as denials, revocations, and imposition of administrative penalties will be issued and the opportunity to appeal will be provided. Of course, the COVID circumstances may affect these activities.
The notice applies to NF, ALF, DAHS, PPECC, HCSSA, and ICF/IID.

Providers Must Log Residents’ Leave

All community-based ICF/IID program providers must submit an absence request in the TMHP ICF/IID Online Portal for a resident away from the facility for one or more full days. See the TMHP ICF/IID Online Portal User Guide (PDF) starting on page 52 for more information. The program provider must submit a return request within three days after a resident returns to the facility. See page 58 of the Online Portal User Guide for an explanation.

Please ensure that information entered in the portal for absences is current. HHSC uses the information to determine how many residents are absent from their facilities and the length of those absences.


Very Important Information:  ICF License Renewals!!!

Regardless of whether HHSC sends advance notice that a license is expiring, providers are responsible for applying to renew their licenses in a timely manner. Furthermore, operating an ALF, DAHS facility, HCSSA, ICF/IID, NF, or PPECC without a license is a violation of state law.2.0Policy Details & Provider ResponsibilitiesSubject to certain narrow exceptions, state law requires a person to have a license if the person:•establishes or operates an ALF;1•operates a DAHS facility;2•engages in the business of providing home health, hospice, habilitation, or personal assistance services, or represents to the public 1Texas Health and Safety Code §247.021.2Human Resources Code, §103.0041.

PL 20-03 January 9, 2020
If a person is a provider of home health, hospice, habilitation, or personal assistance services for pay establishes, conducts, or maintains an ICF/IID or an NF owner or operates a PPECC, the expiration date of a license is printed on the license.
A provider must apply for a renewal license before its current license expires if the provider intends to engage in the activity that requires a license after the current license expires.
If a provider submits a sufficient application to renew its license, including applicable fees, to HHSC before its license expires, the license continues in effect and the provider may continue to operate while HHSC is processing the renewal application. If a provider does not submit a sufficient application to renew its license before it expires and continues to engage in the activity that requires a license after the license expires, the person is violating state law. HHSC may take enforcement action or pursue civil remedies against a person under those circumstances as per the statute and regulations applicable to that provider type. If a license expires without being renewed, the person who held the license must apply for an initial license as a new applicant. The person may not engage in the activity for which a license is required until HHSC issues a new initial license. The applicant must meet all requirements for an initial license, including any Life Safety Code or construction requirements. Any waivers, such as waivers of requirements related to room size in a facility, that were granted under the expired license will no longer be in effect.

Texas Health and Safety Code §142.002.4Texas Health and Safety Code §252.031.5Texas Health and Safety Code §242.031.6Texas Health and Safety Code §248A.051. 726 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §553.15(a)(2) and (e) for ALF, 40 TAC §98.15(a)(2) and (e) for DAHS, 26 TAC §558.17(a) and (g)(2)and (3)for HCSSA, 26 TAC §551.15(d) for ICF/IID, 40 TAC §19.208(e) for NF, and 26 TAC §550.106(a) and (e) for PPECC.

PL 20-03 January 9, 2020
The Texas Unified Licensure Information Portal, which is the system HHSC uses for issuing and renewing licenses, has not been notifying providers that their licenses are about to expire. This PL is to remind providers that the expiration date of a license is printed on the license and, regardless of whether HHSC sends advance notice of an upcoming expiration, a provider must take necessary action to renew a license so the provider is operating in compliance with state law.
Contact Information
If you have any questions about this letter, please contact the Policy, Rules and Training Section by email at

PolicyRulesTraining@hhsc.state.tx.us or call (512) 438-3161.

Provider Joint Training Opportunities

Check out Joint Provider Trainings link from HHSC, for more info:



Survey Process for ICF Has Changed: Please Be Aware

You may check your SOMA (Surveyor’s Operational Manual for ICF in Appendix J) for these changes.



Look for our live training session coming in July 2020 on Appendix Q changes!

“Changes to Appendix Q-Immediate Jeopardy for ICF and What That Means For The Provider”

Webinar in July, 2020

Appendix Q of SOMA (Immediate Jeopardy) Changes


CMS clarifications letter


Online basic training for Core Appendix Q is available on the Integrated Surveyor Training
Website at the following link:https://surveyortraining.cms.hhs.gov/
This basic training is intended to provide Regional Office and State Survey Agency surveyors, management staff, and
training coordinators, as well as providers, suppliers, and laboratories, and other stakeholders with
the ability to identify immediate jeopardy
NOTE: This is a required training for RO and SA staff involved in immediate jeopardy
determinations. All RO and SA surveyors, members of management, and training coordinators
are expected to take this training as soon as practicable, but not later than March 22, 2019.
Point of Contact:
For questions related to this information, please add in subject line
“Immediate Jeopardy Inquiry” and send your email to:
Effective Date:
Immediately-This policy should be communicated to all survey and certification staff, their managers and the State
and Regional Office training coordinators within 30 days of this memorandum.


SOMA appendix Q Section  Immediate Jeopardy 



II.  Proposed ICF/IID Rates: Below please find the link to information about the August 2, 2019 HHSC public hearing on the proposed ICF/IID rates.  The hearing will be at 3:00 p.m. and held in the HHSC public hearing room (first floor of HHSC).  Additional information about the hearing (specifically, needed member action) will be forthcoming.
Though the above link provides the proposed rates, below is a chart which reflects both the current and proposed ICF/IID rates.  Note that with the exception of LON 9, all LON categories and facility settings/sizes are proposed to receive an increase.  Also, at this time, the specifics regarding the impact of the increases on the rate categories (residential direct and indirect  & day habilitation direct and indirect) are not yet available.  According to HHSC the ‘specifics’ should be available on or after this Friday (July 19, 2019).

LON & Facility Size

Current Rates

Proposed Rates