Gov. Abbott announces $3.6 million for communication devices in nursing homes
Gov. Abbott in Amarillo, May 27, 2020/Screen Shot of News Conference.

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) -The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is providing  $3.6 million to nursing facilities for the purchase of tablets, webcams, and headphones.  The program will help nursing home residents stay connected with their loved ones as the facilities remain closed to visitors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we continue to respond to COVID-19 and mitigate the spread of this virus, we are committed to developing effective strategies that protect Texans while keeping them connected.”

Texas is encouraging nursing facility providers to submit applications to HHSC to receive up to $3,000 in federal funding per facility for purchasing communication technology devices.

“Staying connected to families and friends is vitally important to Texans who live in nursing facilities during this unprecedented situation,” said David Kostroun, deputy executive commissioner for HHSC’s Regulatory Services Division. “We want facilities to know this option can help connect residents to their loved ones virtually, while still protecting everyone’s health and safety.”

HHSC is allocating Civil Money Penalty (CMP) funds for this project. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposes CMPs against Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing facilities found out of compliance with federal requirements. CMP funds can be used for projects and activities that benefit nursing facility residents by improving their quality of care or quality of life.

Any Texas nursing facility can apply for this funding.

HHSC also has encouraged facilities to implement a communication plan to help families, residents, and others stay informed and connected, noting they are legally obligated to maintain privacy and HIPAA protections.

Guidance provided by HHSC is posted here, and HHSC also regularly updates its FAQs for nursing facilities. Texas residents can dial 2-1-1 to learn about programs and services.

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