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Analysis

CMS Urges Healthcare Venues to Reopen

By John Commins  
   June 09, 2020

Concerns have been raised that fear of coronavirus contagion has led patients to delay essential and even emergency care.

Even as coronavirus cases are trending up in many parts of the nation, the Trump Administration is encouraging healthcare facilities to reopen for non-emergency and elective care, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is showing them how to do it.

"Americans need their healthcare and our healthcare heroes are working overtime to deliver it safely," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. "Those needing operations, vaccinations, procedures, preventive care, or evaluation for chronic conditions should feel confident seeking in-person care when recommended by their provider."

Elective services came to a grinding halt in late March after health systems and other care venues attempted to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The shutdown has left many providers in perilous financial shape, despite more than $175 billion in emergency stopgap funding provided by the federal government.

Concerns have also been raised that fear of contagion has led patients to delay critically needed and emergency care, along with routine maintenance visits at physicians' offices. CMS has released a guide for patients considering their in-person care options.

The effort to reopen healthcare venues comes amid reports that new coronavirus cases are spiking in a number of states.

The Washington Post is reporting that, since the start of June, 14 states, including Texas, California, Florida, and Puerto Rico have recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. However, some have speculated that the increase in the numbers of reported coronavirus cases is owing more to improved testing. 

On April 19, CMS issued Phase 1 recommendations to safely resume in-person care in areas with low incidence or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases.

CMS has also offered recommendations for providers of in-person care that cover patient- and provider-safety issues, including facility considerations, testing and sanitation protocols, personal protective equipment and supplies, and workforce availability.

Ultimately, CMS says the decisions to reopen should be in line with federal, state, and local orders, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, and in collaboration with state and local public health authorities.

“Those needing operations, vaccinations, procedures, preventive care, or evaluation for chronic conditions should feel confident seeking in-person care when recommended by their provider.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The push to reopen comes as 14 states have recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

However, the increase in the numbers of reported coronavirus cases may be owing more to improved testing.

Elective services came to a grinding halt in late March as hospitals and other care venues attempted to stem the spread of the virus.


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