COVID Testing by Home Care Agencies

Greetings!  I’m writing to update you on information that was announced during Governor Sununu’s news conference yesterday.

The state is increasing testing capacity for people with COVID symptoms, including 5 new fixed testing sites run by the National Guard.

In the news conference, Commissioner Shibinette said that the State “signed a contract with the VNA Association to have VNA nurses do testing for people who can’t leave their homes.”  This is not the case. 

Here’s what’s happening:

  • Last Thursday, NH DHHS approached the Alliance to determine if home care agencies could possibly do home tests.
  • I convened the Alliance’s Executive Committee, which is functioning as a COVID-19 Task Force, to discuss this.  After careful consideration, the EC agreed that this would be an appropriate role for home health agencies,
  • I have had a couple conversations with DHHS about how this might work, including a  possible contract with the Alliance and subcontracts with willing agencies (similar to H1N1 vaccine initiative in 2009), or direct contracts between the state and agencies.
  • The conversations have included:
    • Who orders the test?
    • Will DHHS provide training for test administration?
    • Will DHHS provide test kits?
    • Full PPE must accompany the test kits.
    • What if the patient has insurance or Medicaid or Medicare?
    • What is the payment rate?
    • How will the visits be billed and paid?
    • Where do the test specimens need to go and how will they get there?
    • Who will convey the test results to the patients?
    • What is the expected volume of tests?
  • None of these details have been worked out, nor has anything been put on paper.  Assuming we move forward with this, participation by agencies would be voluntary.

As home care providers, we play an important role in assuring people receive the care they need at home, including testing.  Governor Sununu and his team are action-oriented, but sometimes initiatives have been announced before plans are ready to operationalize.  We will continue to work on this and keep you posted.