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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking aggressive action, including regulatory flexibilities and blanket waivers, to help healthcare providers combat the spread of COVID-19 for the duration of the pandemic.

For skilled nursing facilities (SNF), CMS is waiving the requirement for a 3-day prior hospitalization for coverage. The waiver covers temporary emergency coverage for those who need to be transferred due to a disaster or emergency. For some patients who recently exhausted SNF benefits, it authorizes renewed SNF coverage without having to start a new benefit period. CMS is also waiving regulations on the timeframe requirements for Minimum Data Set assessments and transmission.

For critical access hospitals, CMS is waiving the requirements that limit the number of beds to 25 and the length of stay to 96 hours.

At acute care hospitals, CMS is waiving requirements to allow facilities to house inpatients in excluded distinct part units if the unit’s beds are appropriate for acute care patients.

If a patient’s Durable Medical Equipment (DMEPOS) is lost, destroyed, damaged beyond repair or otherwise unusable, the face-to-face requirement, a new physician’s order, and new medical necessity documentation are not required.

Excluded Inpatient Psychiatric Unit Patients in the Acute Care Unit of a hospital may be relocated to an acute care bed and unit. This waiver applies where a hospital’s acute care beds are appropriate for psychiatric patients and the environment and staff are conducive to safe care.

Excluded Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit Patients may be relocated to an acute care bed and unit. The acute care beds must be appropriate for providing care to rehabilitation patients and patients must continue to receive their intensive rehabilitation services.

Long-Term Care Acute Hospitals (LTCH)s may exclude patient stays where an LTCH admits or discharges patients to meet the demands of the emergency from the 25-day average length of stay requirement.

Requirements are temporarily waived for out-of-state healthcare providers to be licensed in the state where they are providing services. This applies to Medicare and Medicaid.

Providers can receive temporary Medicare provider enrollment (non-certified Part B suppliers, physicians, and non-physician practitioners). Provider applications will be expedited and certain screening requirements will be waived.

For more details, see the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Health Care Providers Fact Sheet from CMS.

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