The Trump Administration has suspended regulatory barriers and will now allow hospitals to clear precious bed capacity by triaging non-COVID-19 patients in thousands of ambulatory surgery centers, rehab hospitals, and even hotels and college dorms.
The sweeping “Hospitals Without Walls” initiative takes effect immediately, will last through the duration of the pandemic, and allows hospitals to bill Medicare and other government payers for providing these services in unconventional settings, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday.
“Front line healthcare providers need to be able to focus on patient care in the most flexible and innovative ways possible,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.
“This unprecedented temporary relaxation in regulation will help the healthcare system deal with patient surges by giving it tools and support to create non-traditional care sites and staff them quickly,” she said.
Verma said the temporary waivers will give local health systems and hospitals the option of tapping into community-based healthcare venues and provide greater flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as they see fit.
For example, the waiver allows health systems to bill government payers for home-based, or drive-through COVID-19 testing in order to limit exposure for both patients and providers, and to ease the strained supply of personal protective equipment.