Press Releases

CMS Issues Guidance Allowing Independent Freestanding Emergency Departments to Provide Care to Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiaries during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued critical guidance 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. 

“Under President Trump’s leadership, CMS is taking historic steps to leverage new resources in the ongoing war against COVID-19,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.  “Expanding the number of providers available to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries eases some of the burden shouldered by traditional hospitals and allows the healthcare system to treat more patients at a time when capacity is often limited. We must leave no stone unturned as we seek to bolster the healthcare system during this unprecedented crisis.”

IFEDs generally offer a range of services including basic imaging services, computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound, and basic on-site laboratory services. Current law does not recognize IFEDs as a certified Medicare provider, meaning they cannot bill Medicare and Medicaid for services. However, during this public health emergency these entities can be temporarily certified as a hospital to increase healthcare system capacity as part of each state’s pandemic plan.

These new flexibilities are possible thanks to aggressive actions made by the Trump Administration that help healthcare providers contain the spread of COVID-19 through Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers. As a result, CMS is waiving certain Conditions of Participation for hospital operations to maximize the ability to focus on patient care during this public health emergency. IFEDs may participate in Medicare and Medicaid in one of three ways:

  • Becoming affiliated with a Medicare/Medicaid-certified hospital under the temporary expansion 1135 emergency waiver;
  • Participating in Medicaid under the clinic benefit if permitted by the state; or
  • Enrolling temporarily as a Medicare/Medicaid-certified hospital to provide hospital services.

These actions, and earlier CMS actions in response to COVID-19, are part of the ongoing White House Coronavirus Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here For information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.

To view the COVID 19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care providers, visit:

To view CMS’s guidance for Independent Freestanding Emergency Departments, visit:


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