How COVID-19 Is Temporarily Changing the Way Medicare Does Business

covid-19 changes to medicare

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken over the American healthcare system as a response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic by creating new rules and waivers of pre-coronavirus operations related to Medicare. CMS says the swift changes will help “local hospitals and health systems have the capacity to absorb and effectively manage potential surges of COVID-19 patients. … flexibilities to permit hospitals and healthcare systems to act as coordinators of healthcare delivery in their areas.”

For many hospitals, Medicare and Medicaid are the single largest payers for healthcare, leaving facilities heavily reliant on receiving reimbursement from the programs to stay afloat financially, with patients waiting in the wings. The team at Levin & Perconti hopes these waivers may help solve this long-standing problem and provide broader access to care in such a troubling time.

This is a brief overview of the new directives from CMS related to COVID-19 care.

  • Allow hospitals to provide benefits and support to their medical staffs (daily meals, laundry service, child care services).
  • Medical residents will have more flexibility to provide services under the direction of the teaching physician.
  • Teaching physicians can now also provide supervision virtually using audio/video communication technology.
  • Permit wider use of verbal orders rather than written orders by hospital doctors so they can focus more of their time on taking care of patients.
  • Waiving the requirements for a nurse to conduct an onsite visit every two weeks for home health and hospice.
  • Hospitals will not be required to have written policies on processes and visitation of patients who are in COVID-19 isolation.
  • Medicare recipients now have broader access to respiratory devices and equipment, as determined by clinicians.
  • Expanding access to telehealth services for people with Medicare so those with COVID-19 can receive care where they are.
  • If a physician determines that a Medicare beneficiary should not leave home because of a medical contraindication or due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and the beneficiary needs skilled services, he or she will be considered homebound and qualify for the Medicare Home Health Benefit.

Lastly, CMS says, “Medicare will pay laboratory technicians to travel to a beneficiary’s home to collect a specimen for COVID-19 testing, eliminating the need for the beneficiary to travel to a healthcare facility for a test and risk exposure to themselves or others. Under certain circumstances, hospitals and other entities will also temporarily be able to perform tests for COVID-19 on people at home and in other community-based settings.”

Levin & Perconti: Illinois Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Levin & Perconti is a nationally recognized law firm with nearly three decades of experience successfully litigating all types of serious injury, medical malpractice, nursing home, and wrongful death cases. If you or someone you love has suffered injury, illness, or infection due to a medical mistake or delay in treatment, please contact us for a free consultation by calling at (312) 332-2872 to see if you have a case.

Also read: Twenty-One Illinois Hospitals Punished by Medicare for Patient Safety Issues

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