The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has eased a number of service restrictions on physicians who provide care for residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities.
The changes join a growing list of so-called “blanket waivers” temporarily granted to healthcare providers and institutions during the COVID-19 crisis. The physician waivers specifically address staff shortages in facilities caring for patients with the coronavirus.
Among the measures:
- Physicians are not required to perform in-person visits for nursing facility residents and may instead conduct visits via telehealth options as appropriate.
- Physicians may now delegate tasks to a physician assistant or nurse practitioner who meets requirements 42 C.F.R. 491.2, or to a state-licensed clinical nurse specialist. However, physicians must supervise the tasks.
- Physicians may delegate required visits to a physician assistant, nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist who is not a facility employee, who works in collaboration with a physician, and is state licensed.
The agency has not waived requirements for physician visit frequency or that facilities provide or arrange for physician services 24 hours a day in case of an emergency. “It is important that a physician be available for consultation regarding a resident’s care,” it stated.
“The actions will assist in potential staffing shortages, maximize the use of medical personnel and protect the health and safety of residents during the public health emergency,” it concluded.