CMS to Grant Exceptions to ASCs Affected by the Northern California Wildfires


October 30, 2017

Surgery centers located in areas affected by the Northern California wildfires will be exempt from quality reporting requirements


Due to the devastating impacts of the October 2017 Northern California wildfires, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will grant exceptions for Medicare quality reporting requirements to ASCs located in affected areas.

ASCs will get exceptions without having to submit an extraordinary circumstances exception (ECE) request if they are located in one of the California counties listed below, all of which have been designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a major disaster locality. The scope and duration of the exception under the Medicare quality reporting program for ASCs is described below. All of the exceptions, however, will be granted to assist these providers while they direct their resources toward caring for their patients and repairing structural damages to facilities.

The affected counties designated by FEMA as of the date of this communication are as follows:

Northern California Counties

  • Butte
  • Lake
  • Mendocino
  • Napa
  • Nevada
  • Orange
  • Sonoma
  • Yuba

ASCs located in the counties described above will get an exception for the following reporting requirements under the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting (ASCQR) Program:

  • Data collection and submission requirements that apply for the remainder of Calendar Year (CY) 2017 and the 2017/2018 Influenza Season that relate to CY 2019 payment determinations are exempt. These exemptions apply to all data submitted via the QualityNet Secure Portal and the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) web-based measure collection tools that are due May 15, 2018, including claims-based measures calculated from submitted Quality Data Codes (QDCs). This exemption does not apply to claims-based measures that do not utilize QDCs for calculation purposes.

Circumstances Under Which an Exception Due to the Northern California Wildfires Must Be Requested to Be Considered by CMS

ASCs located outside of the counties listed above are not covered by this communication, but may request an exception to the reporting requirements using the applicable ECE procedure. If FEMA expands the current disaster declaration for the Northern California wildfires to include additional counties, CMS will update this communication to expand the list of providers eligible to receive an exception without submitting a request.  In addition, CMS will continue to monitor the situation and adjust exempted reporting periods and submission deadlines accordingly.

ASCs in counties outside of the designated areas may submit ECE requests based on individual circumstances by one of the following methods:

  • Secure File Transfer via QualityNet Secure Portal, “WAIVER EXCEPTION WITHHOLDING” group,
  • E-mail to QRSupport@hcqis.org,
  • Secure fax to 877.789.4443 or
  • Mail to HSAG, Attention: Quality Reporting Support Contractor, 3000 Bayport Drive, Suite 300, Tampa, FL 33607.

Additional information about the ECE Request process and form can be found here. The National Support Team for the ASCQR Program is available to answer questions or supply any additional information you may need. Please contact the team at oqrsupport@hsag.com or qrsupport@hcqis.org or call toll-free at (866) 800-8756.

For further assistance regarding the information contained in this message, please contact the Health Services Advisory Group (HSAG) (formerly FMQAI) online or via phone 866.800.8756 Monday through Friday, 7 am to 6 pm EST.