CMS Announces Additional Measures To Provide Hospice Providers Greater Flexibility to Fight COVID-19
On March 30, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced additional measures to provide hospice providers greater flexibility when treating patients during the National Emergency. The hospice provider specific waiver can be found here.
- Medicare Telehealth - Hospice providers can provide services to Medicare patients receiving routine home care through telehealth, if it is feasible and appropriate. Face-to-face encounters for purposes of patient recertification for the Medicare hospice benefit can also be conducted via telehealth.
- Volunteers and Hospice Aide Supervision - CMS is waiving the requirement that hospices are required to use volunteers (including at least 5% of patient care hours). CMS is also waiving the requirement that a nurse conduct an onsite visit every two weeks. This includes waiving the requirements for a nurse or other professional to conduct an onsite visit every two weeks to evaluate if aides are providing care consistent with the care plan.
- Comprehensive Assessments - Hospices must continue to complete the required assessments and updates, however, the timeframes for updating the assessment may be extended from 15 to 21 days.
- Waive Non-Core Services - CMS is waiving the requirement for hospices to provide certain non-core hospice services, including the requirements for physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.
- Accelerated/Advance Payments - CMS has expanded its current Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. Each MAC will work to review requests and issue payments within seven calendar days of receiving the request. Traditionally repayment of these advance/accelerated payments begins at 90 days, however for the purposes of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS has extended the repayment of these accelerated/advance payments to begin 120 days after the date of issuance of the payment.
Additional guidance can be found on the CMS Coronavirus Waivers & Flexibility page.
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