CMS New Alert

May 1, 2020

Here is a summary of recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) actions taken in response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), 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 For information specific to CMS, please visit the CMS News Room and Current Emergencies Website. CMS updates these resources on an ongoing basis throughout the day; the information below is current as of  May 1, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Trump Administration Issues Second Round of Sweeping Changes to Support U.S. Healthcare System During COVID-19 Pandemic

Building on its recent historic efforts to help the U.S. healthcare system manage the 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. The temporary changes will apply immediately for the duration of the Public Health Emergency declaration.

CMS Announces Independent Commission to Address Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes 

CMS announced a new independent Commission that will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission will help inform efforts to safeguard the health and quality of life of vulnerable Americans as CMS continues to battle COVID-19 as well as prepare for future threats to resident safety and public health. This unprecedented effort builds on 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.

New Frequently Asked Questions on EMTALA

CMS issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) clarifying requirements and considerations for hospitals and other providers related to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQs address questions around patient presentation to the emergency department, EMTALA applicability across facility types, qualified medical professionals, medical screening exams, patient transfer and stabilization, telehealth, and other topics.

Guidance Available on Telehealth and HHS-Operated Risk Adjustment for Individual and Small Group Health Insurance Health Plans

In response to the increased need for providing telehealth due to COVID-19, CMS has given additional consideration to telehealth services in HHS-operated risk adjustment for issuers in the individual and small group health insurance markets inside and outside the Marketplaces. CMS’ new guidance clarifies which telehealth services are valid for HHS-operated risk adjustment data submission in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dear Clinician: CMS Adds New COVID-19 Clinical Trials Improvement Activity to the Quality Payment Program

CMS issued a letter thanking clinicians for their ongoing efforts to treat patients and combat COVID-19 and shared additional details on the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) improvement activity. As announced earlier this month, clinicians who participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial and report their findings to a clinical data repository or registry many now earn credit in MIPS under the Improvement Activities performance category for the 2020 performance period by attesting to this new activity.

CMS Gives States Additional Flexibility to Address Coronavirus Pandemic

CMS has approved 140 requests for state relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including recent approvals for Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming. These approvals help to ensure that states have the tools they need to combat COVID-19 through a wide variety of waivers, amendments, and Medicaid state plan flexibilities, including for programs that care for the elderly and people with disabilities. CMS developed a toolkit to expedite the application and review of each request and has approved these requests in record time. These approved flexibilities support President Trump’s commitment to a COVID-19 response that is locally executed, state managed, and federally supported.