CMS Issues First Round of Blanket Waivers for Hospitals and Other Healthcare Facilities to Provide Regulatory Flexibility to Help Healthcare Providers Contain the Spread of COVID-19
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Following the President’s declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19 on Friday, March 13, 2020, and in conjunction with HHS Secretary Azar’s declaration of a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the first round of blanket 1135 waivers to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements for providers and suppliers.
These waivers will allow CMS to take several key administrative actions in response to the national emergency declaration including:
- Waivers and Flexibilities for Hospitals and other Healthcare Facilities: CMS will Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. CMS will also issue several blanket waivers, listed on the website below, and the CMS Regional Offices will review other provider-specific requests.
- Provider Enrollment Flexibilities: CMS will temporarily suspend certain Medicare enrollment screening requirements including site visits and fingerprinting for non-certified Part B suppliers, physicians, and non-physician practitioners. In addition, CMS will allow licensed providers to render services outside their state of enrollment. CMS also announced that CMS will establish a toll-free hotline for providers to enroll and receive temporary Medicare billing privileges.
- Flexibility and Relief for State Medicaid Agencies: The national emergency declaration also enables CMS to grant state and territorial Medicaid agencies a wider range of flexibilities under section 1135 waivers. States and territories are now encouraged to assess their needs and request these available flexibilities, which are outlined in the Medicaid and CHIP Disaster Response Toolkit. Examples of flexibilities available to states under section 1135 waivers include the ability to permit out-of-state providers to render services, temporarily suspend certain provider enrollment and revalidation requirements to promote access to care, allow providers to provide care in alternative settings, waive prior authorization requirements, and temporarily suspend certain pre-admission and annual screenings for nursing home residents. For more information and to access the toolkit: https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/disaster-response-toolkit/index.html.
- Suspension of Enforcement Activities: CMS will temporarily suspend non-emergency survey inspections, allowing providers to focus on the most current serious health and safety threats, like infectious diseases and abuse.
For more information on the waivers, CMS has granted: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-takes-action-nationwide-aggressively-respond-coronavirus-national-emergency.