CMS Seeks to Ensure the Safety of Medicare and Medicaid Patients When Disaster Strikes

By Published On: September 15, 2016

On September 8, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Final Rule to address gaps in the current Medicare and Medicaid emergency preparedness regulations for providers and suppliers.

While recent natural and man-made disasters have showcased the need for comprehensive emergency planning and preparedness, health care is one area where the disruptions that come along with such disasters can be life threatening. The Final Rule released seeks to ensure continuity of care for Medicare and Medicaid patients by modernizing and streamlining the standards for Medicare and Medicaid providers during disasters and emergencies. To that end, CMS conducted a review of the current regulatory requirements and determined that improvements needed to be made in city and statewide cross system communications, contingency planning, and personnel training.

The Final Rule dictates that Medicare and Medicaid providers and suppliers are now required to meet common emergency best practice standards in order to continue to participate in these programs: they will need to develop an emergency preparedness plan and subsequently train personnel and conduct emergency preparedness drills twice a year. In addition, a communications plan will need to be developed that ensures communication with other healthcare providers as well as state and local health departments during and after an emergency.

Compliance with the Final Rule is mandatory for Medicare and Medicaid providers to continue to participate in the federal programs.  The new regulations will be published in the Federal Register on September 16, 2016.  It will go into effect 60 days later on November 15, 2016 and must be implemented one year after the effective date.

Additional resources designed to help providers implement the Final Rule including sample plans and training and exercise materials can be found on the Technical Resources Assistance Center Information Exchange (TRACIE) webpage at https://asprtracie.hhs.gov/.

While the Final Rule has yet to be published, it can be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/09/16/2016-21404/medicare-and-medicaid-programs-emergency-preparedness-requirements-for-medicare-and-medicaid.

If you have additional questions on the Emergency Preparedness regulations, please contact our Health Care practice group at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP, www.FTLF.com or 202-466-8960.  In addition, visit our training website for more information on our upcoming training that will address the new rule.


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