New guidance issued by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) grants hospitals and healthcare systems a number of temporary flexibilities designed to help these facilities manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement released on March 30, 2020, CMS outlines regulatory waivers it says will help to:
- Increase capacity by allowing local ambulatory surgery centers to be contracted to provide hospital services. The agency will also permit state approved non-hospital settings and spaces to be used for triage, testing, patient care and quarantine sites.
- Rapidly expand the healthcare workforce by lifting certain requirements that prevent physicians from being immediately employed. The provision will allow hospitals to hire physicians quickly in response to a potential surge of patients.
- Prioritize patient care by reducing administrative demands, including certain documenting, auditing and reporting,
- Promote telehealth by significantly expanding coverage for services delivered via telemedicine to ensure patients have access to care while remaining at home. The agency has suspended a number of face-to-face requirements and emphasizes that clinicians should utilize remote patient monitoring services for those with acute and chronic conditions.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma says these flexibilities are permitted “as long as the national public health emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic is active.”