(March 27 – April 2, 2020)

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Governmental Agencies Issue Guidance, Sweeping Waivers in Response to COVID-19

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Governmental agencies continue to act swiftly to provide guidance and resources to frontline health care providers. These efforts include the following guidance, waivers and statements:

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued new rules and waivers of federal requirements to address potential surges of COVID-19 patients. Among several waivers, CMS waived requirements relating to medical records, telemedicine, verbal orders, and the Emergency Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”). For more information on the COVID-19 waivers and guidance, click here or here.
  • CMS has updated its EMTALA requirements memorandum to include additional guidance on drive-through testing sites, triage processes, medical screening examinations, and the use of telehealth. This guidance also provides additional information on the Section 1135 waiver of sanctions under EMTALA for relocation to an offsite location to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To review this guidance, click here.
  • CMS has issued blanket waivers of sanctions under the Physician Self-Referral Law (“Stark Law”). Under certain arrangements related to COVID-19, health care providers that furnish items or services that would otherwise violate Stark Law may be reimbursed for these services and exempted from sanctions for any noncompliance. For more information on these blanket waivers, click here.
  • CMS announced the expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating health care providers. These payments may be requested by hospitals, doctors, durable medical equipment suppliers, and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers and suppliers who meet specific eligibility criteria. For more information on the accelerated and advance payment process, or on how to submit a request, click here.
  • CMS has approved Medicaid Section 1135 waivers for 40 states. These waivers are effective as of March 1, 2020 and will remain effective until the termination of the public health emergency. To see whether your state received an 1135 waiver, click here.
  • Vice President Mike Pence penned a letter to the nation’s hospitals requesting that they report COVID-19 testing data to the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). Hospitals should also report data regarding bed capacity and supplies to the National Healthcare Safety Network COVID-19 Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity Module. For more information, click here.
  • The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) at HHS issued a message of its intent to minimize burdens on providers. To the extent possible, OIG will work with health care organizations that need extensions on OIG deadlines and will carefully consider intent when assessing whether to proceed against an organization for conduct that may be subject to an OIG administrative enforcement action. To view this message, click here.

Joint Commission Releases Position Statement on Use of Face Masks Brought from Home

The Joint Commission has released a statement in support of allowing staff members to bring standard face masks and respirators from home when access to protective equipment is not commensurate with the individual’s risk of exposure. To review this statement and the accompanying policy analysis, click here.

 DNV GL Issues Advisory Notice in Response to COVID-19

The DNV issued an advisory notice in light of the COVID-19 national emergency, outlining extensions and modifications of regulatory timelines. These extensions and modifications will be accepted in areas including, but not limited to, credentialing and privileging, internal audits, contract services, and medical equipment. To review this notice, click here.