The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has set a roadmap for the end of the public health emergency, and is urging nursing facility operators and other healthcare providers to prepare for the coming changes. 

In a blog post published late last week, the agency outlined a strategic plan that includes a roadmap toward a “more resilient” healthcare system that can better adapt to disasters and emergencies.

As part of this initiative, the agency is evaluating PHE waivers and flexibilities, many of which will end along with the PHE. It asked providers to begin working to reestablish previous health and safety standards and billing practices “as soon as possible.”

As a point of reference, CMS is directing providers to a document containing current waivers and flexibilities — with terminations and other changes noted — for use in preparing themselves for the future. The PHE is slated to end Oct. 13. But CMS has reiterated a promise by the Department of Health and Human Services that providers will receive 60 days notice of any PHE changes, making it likely that this date will be extended.

In the meantime, some decisions about PHE flexibilities and waivers have already been made. Nursing homes will need to continue reporting COVID-19 cases and deaths until at least 2024, for example, under revised infection control requirements, CMS reported. And Congress in 2021 acted to expand telehealth access for mental health care beyond the end of the PHE.

Other temporary flexibilities have been terminated, such as the waiver for nurse aide certification in long-term care facilities. CMS has determined that inadequate training may be contributing to increases in residents’ weight-loss, depression and incidence of pressure ulcers.

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CMS to providers: Start phasing out COVID emergency waivers