AACU News & Notes

COVID-19 Healthcare Provider and Payment Policy Resources

posted: May 13, 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the AACU remains committed to supporting our member physicians through advocacy and information exchange. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for all that you do to support the health of your communities.

In this, our second compilation of COVID-19 resources, we seek to provide you with the most up-to-date information on federal policies that have been enacted to assist physicians and other healthcare providers during this time. We encourage you to explore these resources and stay healthy, informed, and connected.

CMS Continues to Increase Flexibility in Quality Reporting Requirements (McGuireWoods)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is keeping in place a temporarily easing of certain regulatory requirements for Medicare clinicians, providers and healthcare facilities so they can focus on patient care during the crisis. This article focuses on CMS’ changes related to reporting requirements for post-acute care facilities and QCDR vendors, and changes to the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program extraordinary circumstance exception policy.

CMS Offers Additional Relief for MIPS Reporting (Hall Render)
CMS has implemented multiple updates to the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to relieve clinicians of certain reporting requirements including an extension of the MIPS Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances policy for individual clinicians. MIPS eligible clinicians who did not submit data by April 30 will qualify for the automatic extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy and will receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year.

CMS Guidance on Stark Law Blanket Waivers During COVID-19 Pandemic (McGuireWoods)
Last month, CMS issued guidance on the scope and application of the Physician Self-Referral Law blanket waivers, which temporarily protect certain otherwise prohibited financial relationships and referrals as they relate to COVID-19 patient treatment. This article provides key clarifications in the blanket waiver guidance.

Telehealth Services

Regulations on telehealth have evolved drastically over the last two months enabling physicians to provide critical services to their patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Government expansion of telehealth began with President Trump’s emergency declaration on March 13, which authorized CMS to temporarily pay clinicians for certain telehealth services provided to Medicare beneficiaries across the entire country.

In the weeks since, federal agencies have further relaxed telehealth regulations to allow additional types of clinical practitioners to furnish a wider range of care to Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. A second round of broad regulatory waivers issued on April 30 allowed hospitals to bill as the originating site for telehealth services and expanded the list of healthcare services that may be conducted by audio-only telephone.

Elective Procedures

In conjunction with the Trump administration’s guidelines to reopen America and CMS’ recommendations to reopen the healthcare system, several state governors have announced plans to reopen businesses and resume non-emergent medical and surgical procedures using a phased-in approach and timeline.

While some state orders have provided a specific definition of “elective procedures”, others have been more vague, thus requiring urologists and hospitals to make difficult decisions about which surgeries should continue during the public health emergency.

State Governors’ “Stay-at-Home” and Prohibition on Elective Procedures Orders (McGuireWoods)
This article outlines current federal recommendations as well as state-by-state directives for reopening healthcare systems for the provision of elective procedures and treatment to non-COVID-19 patients.

Roadmap for Resuming Elective Surgery after COVID-19 Pandemic
The American Hospital Association (AHA) and other prominent physician groups have developed a roadmap to guide readiness, prioritization and scheduling of elective surgeries. The roadmap provides key principles and considerations to guide healthcare professionals and organizations regarding when and how to proceed with elective surgeries safely.

Additional Resources on Elective Procedures
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