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Regular surveys are resuming for long-term providers after being suspended for nearly five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced late Monday that it will resume routine inspections of all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers. The move comes after the agency in late March suspended routine inspections to exclusively focus on Immediate Jeopardy situations and infection control inspections.

The memo to state survey agencies reauthorizes additional onsite revisits and other types of surveys, in addition to Immediate Jeopardy and infection control inspections, once resources are available.

The agency advised states to prioritize their survey backlog by first conducting revisit surveys for past non-compliance that don’t qualify for a desk review; complaint surveys triaged as non-Immediate Jeopardy or higher that haven’t been completed; special purpose renal dialysis facilities; initial surveys of new providers; past due recertification surveys with a statutorily required survey interval; and past due recertification surveys without a statutorily required survey interval, according to the memo. 

“These surveys fortified healthcare facilities around the country to prepare for and implement actions to prevent transmission of the virus and provided indispensable insight into the situation on the ground. As CMS resumes some survey and enforcement activities that were previously put on hold, the health and safety of America’s patients will always be our top priority,” Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. 

Additional guidance 

The agency also released guidance on how state agencies should reprioritize Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) survey activities and how to resolve enforcement cases that were suspended. 

Regarding resolving suspended cases, the guidance covers four components: expanding the desk review policy for plans of correction; processing enforcement cases that started before March 23, 2020; processing cases that started on March 23 through May 31, 2020; and processing cases that started on or after June 1, 2020. 

“SAs must request facilities to submit evidence that supports correction of noncompliance so that a desk review can be performed based on the latest compliance date on the POC. A desk review cannot be completed without supporting evidence from the facility,” the memo states.

This story has been updated.