CMS Expands ASCs’ Ability to Assist with COVID-19 Response
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma tonight announced sweeping regulatory changes to address the surge that is expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the “Hospitals Without Walls” program, “hospitals will be able to transfer patients to outside facilities, such as ambulatory surgery centers, inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, hotels, and dormitories, while still receiving hospital payments under Medicare. Ambulatory surgery centers can contract with local healthcare systems to provide hospital services, or they can enroll and bill as hospitals during the emergency declaration as long as they are not inconsistent with their State’s Emergency Preparedness or Pandemic Plan.” ASCs that choose to enroll to receive temporary billing privileges as a hospital should call the COVID-19 Provider Enrollment Hotline to reach the contractor that serves their jurisdiction and complete and sign an attestation form specific to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). See this emergency declaration waiver document and these frequently asked questions for additional information. ASCA has been working closely with the administration and CMS over the past two weeks and appreciates this flexibility, which will allow a number of ASCs to take on a greater role during this pandemic.
CMS also issued new recommendations to mitigate transmission of the coronavirus, including screening, restricting visitors, cleaning and disinfection and possible closures.
Many ASCA members have asked what will happen if they close temporarily during the pandemic. According to this announcement, “CMS will not take administrative actions with respect to facilities who need to temporarily close during the outbreak, however, facilities are expected to resume operations or voluntarily terminate their Medicare enrollment within 30 days of the public health emergency being lifted.“
ASCA will continue to review the guidance and provide more information to members in the coming days.