News Roundup April 10th, 2020
very week we bring you important news that may affect home health agencies and clinicians alike. With updates to the industry moving at near lightning speed, we will continuously cover any updates the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other pertinent governmental agencies will have to help providers make informed decisions.
As CMS (the federal agency that administers the Medicare program) continues to help professionals navigate through this challenging period they have issued new guidance for infection control to protect patients and healthcare workers “in a variety of inpatient and outpatient care settings.”
“The guidance, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, will help ensure infection control in the context of patient triage, screening and treatment, the use of alternate testing and treatment sites and telehealth, drive-through screenings, limiting visitations, cleaning and disinfection guidelines, staffing, and more.”
Additionally, CMS has approved nearly $34B in funding to help providers and healthcare suppliers working the frontlines of the novel coronavirus pandemic to stay afloat. With this funding come some caveats. Housed under the CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, “the advance and accelerated payments are a loan providers must pay back.”
“In a little over a week, CMS has received over 25,000 requests from health care providers and suppliers for accelerated and advance payments and have already approved over 17,000 of those requests in the last week. Prior to COVID-19, CMS had approved just over 100 total requests in the past five years, with most being tied to natural disasters such as hurricanes.”
Repayment for the advance and accelerated payments will be deferred up to one year for the majority of hospitals including “inpatient acute care hospitals, children’s hospitals, certain cancer hospitals, and critical access hospitals” with Part A providers and Part B suppliers having up to 210 days to complete repayment.
It should also be distinguished that the CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Program is separate from the $100B funding from the CARES Act in that funds from this program do not need to be repaid.
In more home healthcare news, the State of California Department of Social Services has updated waivers for licensing requirements to respond to a shortage of workers and clinicians. To summarize some of the recently dispatched Provider Information Notices (PINs) the CDSS states that:
“CDSS is announcing statewide waivers for certain licensing requirements, without the need for licensees, Home Care Organizations and/or Aides, Administrators, or Administrator Certification Program Training Vendors to make an individual request, and subject to the following Waiver Terms and Conditions set forth in this PIN. Licensees, Home Care Organizations and/or Aides, Administrators, or Administrator Certification Program Training Vendors using the waivers below do not need prior approval from CDSS.”
As major steps to address the growing need for support during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDSS has taken steps to ensure more providers have the capability to deliver care in a growing time of need. Most of these waivers are implemented to ensure proper mitigation of health and sickness in California by strengthening support for caregivers mobilizing against the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, CDSS sets up the possibility for telehealth in their notice for updated visitation waivers in the recent PIN.
“In lieu of in-person visits and social gatherings, facilities shall make arrangements for alternate means of communication for visitors such as phone calls, video calls, and online communications. Communications should allow for private and/or confidential communications as needed, and as required by law. A facility may also limit a person in care’s right to associate with other persons in care for social distancing, as necessary for containment and mitigation only.”