• December 2, 2020

Is CMS Going To Make Healthcare Services More Flexible For COVID-19 Care?

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The Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) is striving to bring flexibility and financial stability for physicians, hospitals and other providers. They have taken several actions in order to support healthcare practitioners to battle the global epidemic of CoronaVirus.

1. Affordable care services for all patients

AMA PresidentPractice A, Harris, MD, MA stated that these healthcare workers need more flexibility, reduced red tape, and immediate solutions to increase capacity for future cases. They also need to ensure access to care in every patient setting including home.

2. Eligibility criteria for Accelerated and Advance Payment Program

CMS has extended eligibility criteria for its Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. It has started to provide emergency cash in advance based on historical payments. It is intended to provide necessary funds if there is a disruption in claim submission or processing such as in the pandemic of COVID-19. Medical billers can request payments for hospitals, doctors, durable equipment suppliers and other Medicare Part A and Part B providers.

3. Extended Deadline for MIPS

CMS has also extended the deadline to submit 2019 performance data from March 31 to April 30. Medicare Quality Payment Program’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) eligible physicians and other clinicians who don’t submit data by April 30 will qualify for the “automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances” policy. They will automatically avoid a MIPS-related penalty and they will get a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year. COID-19 has thrust upon a significant financial burden on healthcare practitioners. These measures will allow them to maintain all quality measures for care delivery during this epidemic.Medicare has also introduced the following flexibilities for better outcomes of physician revenue cycle management;

  1. Physicians who have practice license for one state can provide services across the state lines.
  2. They can test patients at their remote locations. This includes drive-up testing and sending technicians to patient’s homes.
  3. It allows healthcare practitioners to manage their hospital care in alternative settings including; ambulatory surgery centers and in public places such as hotels and convention centers.
  4. Hospitals can support physician practices by transferring equipment and providing meals, laundry service and childcare for medical staff.
  5. Physician’s offices can expand their number of licensed beds, operating rooms and procedure rooms. Moreover, they can also temporarily convert observation beds to accommodate the surge in patients.
  6. CMS has also provided guidelines to healthcare practitioners to adopt preventive measures for COVID-19 care.
  7. Adopt prevention to avoid germs enter the facility

Physicians should cancel elective procedures and use telemedicine if possible. They should limit the point of entry and manage visitors and screen patients for respiratory symptoms. Encourage patient respiratory hygiene using alternatives to facemasks (e.g. use tissues to cover cough and sneeze.)

4. Isolate infected patients

Isolate infected patients from the rest of the healthcare facility. Set up separate, well-ventilated triage areas and place patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in private rooms. Make the doors closed for the isolated room and provide them with a private bathroom is possible. Physicians should prioritize AIIRs for patients undergoing aerosol-generating procedures.

5. Protect medical personnel

Emphasize hygienic measures for hands. Healthcare practitioners should wash their hands and use sanitizers more often. Hospital management should install barriers to limit contact with patients at triage. Cohort COVID-19 patients and limit the numbers of the medical staff providing their care. Healthcare staff should use respirators and AIIRs for aerosol-generating procedures and implement PPE optimization strategies to extend supplies.

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