Home health, hospice and other healthcare providers will be allowed to operate under COVID-19 waivers and flexibilities well into 2023, as the nation’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has been extended into April.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra signed a 90-day extension today, Oct. 11, continuing an unbroken string of extensions since the PHE was first declared in early 2020.
The latest PHE extension has been expected since November, according to Kim Skehan, SimiTree Director of Compliance and Regulatory.
“Previously, officials have said they will provide a 60-day notice prior to the end of the PHE and subsequent revocation of flexibilities and waivers,” said Kim Skehan, SimiTree Director of Compliance, Regulatory and Quality. “The latest PHE extension was expected because we did not receive notice in November.”
COVID-19 waivers and flexibilities
Home health and hospice providers are keeping a sharp eye out for the expiration of the PHE to maintain compliance once regulatory waivers and flexibilities end.
But not all waivers and flexibilities now available to home health and hospice providers will end with the PHE. One exception will be the face-to-face encounter between patient and physician.
“Providers will have an additional 151 days beyond the last day of the COVID-19 PHE to continue relying on telehealth to meet F2F requirements,” Skehan said.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) clarified in September that it will follow provisions enacted by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (CAA 2022). The act extends the F2F telehealth waivers for both home health and hospice, allowing telehealth to continue through the 151st day following the end of the PHE.
Additional exceptions surround home health aide training and supervision.
What agencies should do
SimiTree compliance experts recommend home health and hospice agencies, physician practices, behavioral health clinics and other providers stay abreast of federal and state waivers and requirements.
“Providers should make certain to incorporate the new timelines into the organization’s Emergency/Pandemic Planning and COVID-19 Response documentation to ensure a clear relationship between the waivers/requirements, staff training and evidence of documentation,” Skehan said.
CMS has already begun to make preparations for the expiration of the PHE, including the recent release of information on how medical reviews will be handled at the close of the PHE.
Join us for a Jan. 19 webinar
SimiTree will include a segment on planning for the eventual expiration of the PHE in a compliance and regulatory overview offered as a complimentary webinar at 1:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 19.
“Home Health and Hospice Regulatory Roundup” will highlight the current government audit and appeal landscape, recent HIPAA updates home health and hospice organizations should know about, increasing OIG scrutiny, new survey enforcement remedies for hospice, new areas of survey focus for home health, and more.
Read details about the 60-minute webinar and register here.
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