April 13, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is suspending more regulations tied to telehealth during the Coromavirus pandemic, giving healthcare providers more freedom to use connected health services to treat patients remotely.
In a separate announcement, CMS postponed the launch of an innovative mHealth program for first responders – known as the ET3 Model – from May first until sometime this fall.
The changes announced last week focus on supervision and certification requirements across a wide range of healthcare sites, giving doctors, nurses and other care providers and freedom to work at the top of their license. They expand on changes announced on March 30 and will remain in place only for as long as the nation is in a state of emergency.
In a Thursday night emergency declaration, CMS announced that, retroactive to March 1:
The changes affect a wide variety of healthcare sites being hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, including critical access hospitals (CAHS), federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), rural health clinics (RHCs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), home health agencies and hospices.
“It’s all hands on deck during this crisis,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a press release. “All frontline medical professionals need to be able to work at the highest level they were trained for. CMS is making sure there are no regulatory obstacles to increasing the medical workforce to handle the patient surge during the COVID pandemic.”
Concerning the Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport (ET3) Model, CMS announced that the program has been delayed until the fall as the nation focuses on the pandemic. Just two months ago, the agency had announced the selection of more than 200 healthcare providers to take part in the program, which aims to create a new payment model that uses mHealth and telehealth to improve care for people dialing 911.