CMS NEWS ALERT MARCH 30, 2020
Here is a summary of recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) actions taken in response to the COVID-19 virus, as part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19, click here www.coronavirus.gov. For information specific to CMS, please visit the CMS News Room and Current Emergencies Website.
CMS Announces Hospital Data Sharing with State and Federal Health Agencies
Yesterday, CMS sent a letter to the nation’s hospitals on behalf of Vice President Pence requesting they report data in connection with their efforts to fight the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The letter requests that hospitals report COVID-19 testing data to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in addition to daily reporting regarding bed capacity and supplies to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity Module.
CMS Announces Accelerated/Advance Payments for Medicare Providers
CMS recently announced expanding the accelerated/advance payment program and streamlining the process for emergency accelerated/advance payment requests. We also have instituted additional changes to speed up the payments to lessen financial hardships faced by providers and suppliers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CMS Approved its 34th State Medicaid Waiver Request Under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act
CMS recently approved a total of 34 waiver requests under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act (Act). The waivers support President Trump’s commitment to a COVID-19 response that is locally executed, state managed and federally supported.
In addition, keeping with its commitment to ensure states have the necessary tools to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, CMS has also approved a total of 11 Emergency Preparedness and Response for Home and Community Based (HCBS) 1915 Appendix K waiver amendments.
1915 Appendix K Waivers
Quality Payment Program and Quality Reporting Program/Value Based Purchasing Program COVID-19 Relief
CMS recently announced relief for clinicians, providers, hospitals and facilities participating in quality reporting programs in response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This memorandum and factsheet supplements and provides additional guidance to health care providers with regard to the announcement. CMS has extended the 2019 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) data submission deadline from March 31 by 30 days to April 30, 2020. This and other efforts are to provide relief to clinicians responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the MIPS automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy will apply to MIPS eligible clinicians who do not submit their MIPS data by the April 30, 2020 deadline.
Long-Term Care Nursing Homes Telehealth and Telemedicine Tool Kit
CMS recently issued an electronic toolkit regarding telehealth and telemedicine for Long Term Care Nursing Home Facilities. Under President Trump’s leadership to respond to the need to limit the spread of community COVID-19, CMS has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. This document contains electronic links to reliable sources of information regarding telehealth and telemedicine, including the significant changes made by CMS over the last week in response to the National Health Emergency. Most of the information is directed towards providers who may want to establish a permanent telemedicine program, but there is information here that will help in the temporary deployment of a telemedicine program as well. There are specific documents identified that will be useful in choosing telemedicine vendors, equipment, and software, initiating a telemedicine program, monitoring patients remotely, and developing documentation tools. There is also information that will be useful for providers who intend to care for patients through electronic virtual services that may be temporarily used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Access to Zika Health Care Services for COVID Testing
CMS recently approved a request from the Puerto Rico Department of Health to expand the scope of their existing Zika Health Care Services Program to allow $8.7 million in their grant funding to be used for COVID-19 testing in addition to continued Zika testing.
The Zika Health Care Services Program provides funding to support prevention activities and treatment services for health conditions related to the Zika virus, including improving provider capacity in American Samoa, Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This change in scope will allow Puerto Rico to continue Zika testing for pregnant women while increasing the capacity of COVID-19 tests. Funds may be used for laboratory personnel, equipment, laboratory and general supplies, equipment maintenance and samples collection.
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