ICYMI, here is what has been happening at CMS.
Second Round of Sweeping Changes to Support U.S. Healthcare System During COVID-19 Pandemic – building on its recent efforts to help the U.S. healthcare system manage the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, CMS issued another round of sweeping regulatory waivers and rule changes to deliver expanded care to the nation’s seniors and provide flexibility to the healthcare system as America reopens. These changes include making it easier for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to get tested for COVID-19 and continuing CMS’s efforts to further expand beneficiaries’ access to telehealth services.
A new independent Commission was announced that will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Commission will provide independent recommendations to the contractor to review and report to CMS to help inform immediate and future responses to COVID-19 in nursing homes. This unprecedented effort builds upon the agency’s five-part plan unveiled last April to ensure safety and quality in America’s nursing homes, as well as recent CMS efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 within these facilities. Tomorrow marks the beginning of Older Americans Month and, as we take this time to honor seniors, CMS remains committed to enacting policies that benefit our Nation’s seniors.
CMS announced that it is reevaluating the amounts that will be paid under its Accelerated Payment Program and suspending its Advance Payment Program to Part B suppliers effective immediately. The agency made this announcement following the successful payment of over $100 billion to healthcare providers and suppliers through these programs and in light of the $175 billion recently appropriated for healthcare provider relief payments.
A new toolkit for states was released to help accelerate adoption of broader telehealth coverage policies in the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This release builds on the agency’s swift actions to provide states with a wide range of tools and guidance to support their ability to care for their Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries during this public health emergency.
ONC and CMS, in conjunction with the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced a policy of enforcement discretion to allow compliance flexibilities regarding the implementation of the interoperability final rules announced on March 9th in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public health emergency. ONC, CMS, and OIG will continue to monitor the implementation landscape to determine if further action is needed.
Critical guidance issued allowing licensed, independent freestanding emergency departments (IFEDs) in Colorado, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Texas to temporarily provide care to Medicare and Medicaid patients to address any surge. This action by the Trump Administration increases hospital capacity to ensure these states can quickly and effectively care for their most vulnerable citizens.
CMS is encouraging clinicians who participate in the Quality Payment Program (QPP), such as physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and others, to contribute to scientific research and evidence to fight the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Clinicians may now earn credit in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), a performance-based track of QPP that incentivizes quality and value, for participation in a clinical trial and reporting clinical information by attesting to the new COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity. This action will provide vital data to help drive improvement in patient care and develop innovative best practices to manage the spread of COVID-19 within communities.
New regulatory requirements announced that will require nursing homes to inform residents, their families and representatives of COVID-19 cases in their facilities. In addition, CMS will now require nursing homes 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.
CMS helps expand testing capacity and monitoring for COVID-19 in nursing homes and other settings with high volume testing needs. Medicare will nearly double payment for certain lab tests that use high-throughput technologies to rapidly diagnose large numbers of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. This is another action the Trump Administration is taking to rapidly expand COVID-19 testing, particularly for those with Medicare, including nursing home residents who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and most affected by COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.