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Below are the latest CMS COVID-19 regulatory updates from this week, along with call-in information for this week’s stakeholder calls.
CMS issues new guidance to re-open America
On April 20, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new recommendations specifically targeted to communities that are in Phase 1 of the Guidelines for President Trump’s Opening Up America Again with low incidence or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases. The recommendations update CMS’ earlier guidance provided on March 18th on limiting non-essential surgeries and medical procedures. The new CMS guidelines recommend a gradual transition and encourage health care providers to coordinate with local and state public health officials, and to review the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies, workforce availability, facility readiness, and testing capacity when making the decision to re-start or increase in-person care.
Prior to entering Phase 1, states or regions need to pass gating criteria regarding symptoms, cases, and hospitals. The CMS recommendations are not meant to be implemented by every state, county, or city at this time and Governors and local leaders ultimately need to make decisions on whether they are appropriate for their communities.
Healthcare facilities and providers that are in areas still seeing a higher number of COVID-19 cases are encouraged to continue following the recommendations made by CMS last month. These were issued to expand capacity to care for patients with COVID-19, to reduce the risks of transmission and exposure to patients, and to conserve adequate supplies, especially PPE and manpower, during the public health emergency.
Healthcare facilities in some areas may have been stretched to their limits of capacity, and surge areas have been needed to augment care. However, many parts of the country have a low, or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19, and it is important to allow flexibility to provide non-COVID-19 healthcare. Both sets of recommendations issued by CMS are based on ensuring doctors are making the ultimate decision about patient care. Providers and patients are still highly encouraged to continue to utilize virtual care for services that can be managed via remote appointments to continue limiting the risk of exposure and spread of this virus. Read the new recommendations and The Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.
CMS initiates transparency effort for nursing homes during COVID-19
On April 19, CMS announced new regulatory requirements that will require nursing homes to inform residents, their families and representatives of COVID-19 cases in their facilities. In addition, as part of CMS’ efforts to re-open America, nursing homes will now be required to report cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This information must be reported in accordance with existing privacy regulations and statute. This measure augments longstanding requirements for reporting infectious disease to State and local health departments. Finally, CMS will also require nursing homes to fully cooperate with CDC surveillance efforts around COVID-19 spread. The CDC will be providing a reporting tool to nursing homes that will support Federal efforts to collect nationwide data to assist in COVID-19 surveillance and response.
CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Engagement Calls – Week of April 20
CMS “Office Hour Calls” are hosted every Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m., ET. The calls provide an opportunity for hospitals, health systems, physicians and clinicians to ask questions of agency officials regarding CMS’s temporary actions that empower local hospitals and healthcare system. Here are the details for this week’s Office Hour Calls:
Toll Free Attendee Dial In: (833) 614-0820; Access Passcode: 3963515
Toll Free Attendee Dial In: (833) 614-0820; Access Passcode: 5899488
CMS “Lessons from the Front Lines” calls are held on Fridays at 12:30 p.m., ET. These calls are a joint effort between CMS Administrator Seema Verma, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Physicians and other clinicians are invited to share their experience, ideas, strategies, and insights with one another related to their COVID-19 response, and ask questions.
Here are the details for this week’s Lessons from the Front Lines call:
Toll Free Attendee Dial-In: (877) 251-0301; Access Code: 5096006