Centers for Medicare and Medicaid extends flexibility in transport locations, paperwork

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlined requirements that have been waived to prioritize patient care during the COVID-19 national emergency


By Laura French

BALTIMORE — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has outlined new flexibilities for ambulance services and healthcare facilities in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

Under the new guidelines, CMS has temporarily expanded the list of allowable ambulance transport destinations to include any destination that can provide treatment to the patient in accordance with state and local EMS protocols. The change aims to ensure hospitals have the capacity to handle a potential surge of COVID-19 patients.

A car sits outside an urgent care facility in Arlington, Texas, Monday, March 23, 2020. In order to ensure hospitals will have the capacity to handle a potential surge in COVID-19 patients, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has temporarily expanded the list of allowable ambulance transport locations.
A car sits outside an urgent care facility in Arlington, Texas, Monday, March 23, 2020. In order to ensure hospitals will have the capacity to handle a potential surge in COVID-19 patients, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has temporarily expanded the list of allowable ambulance transport locations. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The list of temporary expansion sites includes but is not limited to critical access hospitals (CAHs) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), community mental health centers, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), physician’s offices, urgent care facilities, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), any location furnishing dialysis services, and the patient’s home.

CMS also announced its initiative to put “Patients Over Paperwork” by giving temporary relief from many paperwork, reporting and audit requirements.

Additionally, the new guidelines expand in-place COVID-19 testing and telehealth access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and removes some barriers for the hiring of healthcare personnel from the community or from other states, so that healthcare systems can quickly expand their workforce.

Read the full CMS guidance

 

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