CMS Streamlines 1135 Waiver Requests

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new tool to streamline 1135 waiver requests during declared public health emergencies. The COVID -19 pandemic has brought to light several challenges related to the submission, tracking and issuance of 1135 waivers due to the volume of requests for flexibilities by the provider and…

Comprehensive Error Rate Testing Review Update

Effective August 11, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) resumed Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) program activities that were temporarily suspended in response to the public health emergency (PHE). Specifically, the CERT program resumed sending documentation request letters to and conducting phone calls with providers or suppliers to request medical documentation for…

HHS Tells Governors Public Health Emergency to Last All of 2021

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has written a letter to all the nation’s governors to inform them that the current public health emergency, caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, will last all of 2021 and possibly into 2022.

“To assure you of our commitment to the ongoing response, we have determined that the PHE will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021, and when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination”, reads the letter to governors.

“Predictability and stability are important given the foundation and flexibilities offered to states that are tied to the designation of the PHE. Among other things, the PHE determination provides for the ability to streamline and increase the accessibility of healthcare, such as the practice of telemedicine. It allows under section 1135 of the Social Security Act, in conjunction with a Presidential Declaration under the National Emergencies Act or Stafford Act, the Secretary to waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule requirements. The goal is to ensure to the maximum extent feasible that, in an emergency area during an emergency period, sufficient health care items and services are available to meet the needs of individuals receiving Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP and that providers that furnish such items and services can be reimbursed for them and exempt from sanctions, absent fraud or abuse.”

The HHS letter warns governors to expect continued and possibly new use of emergency authorities to combat the virus.

“In light of the PHE extension, you can expect the continued use of other emergency authorities, including Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act declarations and emergency use authorizations (EUA) for diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The Department will consider the use of any available flexibility to aid states in their response to this PHE.”

HHS Tells Governors Public Health Emergency to Last All of 2021

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has written a letter to all the nation’s governors to inform them that the current public health emergency, caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, will last all of 2021 and possibly into 2022. “To assure you of our commitment to the ongoing response, we…

OIG Adds 2 Home Health Items to Work Plan

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has announced two new items of interest to NAHC home health members. One is an audit of home health telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) and the second is a report on the challenges faced by home health agencies in responding to the PHE and the…

SBA and Treasury Announce PPP Re-Opening; Issue New Guidance

Public Health Emergency Extended The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced on Friday, January 8, 2021, that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able…

NAHC Urges Feds to Make Some COVID-Era Reforms Permanent

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) submitted comments in response to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) request for information on which COVID-19-related regulatory waivers and flexibilities should be made permanent – beyond the public health emergency (PHE) or remain temporary, and lapse when the PHE is over. HHS specifically…

OCR Issues Guidance on HIPAA, Health Information Exchanges, and Disclosures of Protected Health Information for Public Health Purposes

On Friday, December 18, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance on how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) permits covered entities and their business associates to use health information exchanges (HIEs) to disclose protected health information (PHI) for the…

HHS Wants Your View on Regulatory Changes

Which reg changes made during the pandemic should be permanent? Tell HHS now! The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has  issued a request for information (RFI) soliciting input from a broad array of health care stakeholders on the costs and benefits of the regulatory changes the agency has made in response to the…

COVID -19 Therapeutic Receives Emergency Use Authorization

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that starting November 12, 2020, Medicare beneficiaries can receive coverage of monoclonal antibodies to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with no cost-sharing during the public health emergency (PHE). CMS’ coverage of monoclonal antibody infusions applies to bamlanivimab, which received an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S.…