Published March 18, 2020
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When the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was declared a national emergency March 13, 2020, it opened the door for Medicare to take aggressive action against the outbreak.
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The declaration of a national emergency allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to authorize the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take additional actions under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act.
The actions that can and will be taken by CMS as a result of the declaration of a national emergency include the following.
Certain federal coverage requirements for Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will be waived or modified.
Several blanket waivers will be issued, and the CMS Regional Offices will review additional provider-specific requests.
The lifting of these requirements will help Medicare and Medicaid services continue uninterrupted for the beneficiaries who need them.
Certain Medicare enrollment screening requirements are temporarily suspended, including site visits and fingerprinting for non-certified Part B suppliers, physicians and non-physician practitioners.
CMS will also allow licensed providers to administer services outside their state of enrollment and establish a toll-free hotline providers can use to enroll and receive temporary Medicare billing privileges.
This means that more device suppliers and health care providers can work to give Medicare beneficiaries the care they need without having to wait for certain bureaucratic measures and approvals.
It also means that some health care providers could potentially travel to provide care in higher-need areas that are in need of more caregivers due to COVID-19 infections.
An emergency declaration allows state Medicaid agencies a wider range of flexibility to:
These measures can help allow Medicaid beneficiaries to receive necessary care as providers are potentially forced to adapt and offer services in new settings and in states other than where they typically practice.
CMS may now temporarily suspend non-emergency survey inspections, which will allow providers to focus on the health and safety threat at hand, rather than working to meet certain inspection requirements.
President Donald Trump’s declaration of a nationwide state of emergency affects several other aspects of how Americans receive health care during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic:
At the time of the declaration of a national emergency, 39 states had also declared a state of emergency along with numerous cities and counties.
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
Where you've seen coverage of Christian's research and reports: