The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced several actions aimed at limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Specifically, CMS is issuing a call to action to healthcare providers across the country to ensure they are implementing their infection control procedures, which they are required to maintain at all times.
Additionally, CMS is announcing that, effective immediately and until further notice, state survey agencies and accrediting organizations will focus their facility inspections exclusively on issues related to infection control and other serious health and safety threats, like allegations of abuse—beginning with nursing homes and hospitals. Critically, this shift in approach, first announced by Vice President Mike Pence, will allow inspectors to focus their energies on addressing the spread of COVID-19.
As the agency responsible for Medicare and Medicaid, CMS requires facilities to maintain infection control and prevention policies as a condition for participation in the programs. CMS is also issuing three memoranda to state survey agencies, state survey agency directors, and accrediting organizations—to inspect thousands of Medicare-participating healthcare providers across the country, including nursing homes and hospitals.1–3
“Today’s actions, taken together, represent a call to action across the healthcare system,” says CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “All healthcare providers must immediately review their procedures to ensure compliance with CMS’ infection control requirements, as well as the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We sincerely appreciate the proactive efforts of the nursing home and hospital associations that have already galvanized to provide up-to-the-minute information to their members. We must continue working together to keep American patients and residents safe and healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
For further information, visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
1. Suspension of Survey Activities [guidance, online]. Baltimore, Md: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2019. Available at: www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and/suspension-survey-activities. Accessed March 4, 2020.
2. Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention Concerning Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): FAQs and Considerations for Patient Triage, Placement, and Hospital Discharge [guidance, online]. Baltimore, Md: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2019. Available at: www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and/guidance-infection-control-and-prevention-concerning-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-faqs-and. Accessed March 4, 2020.
3. Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nursing Homes [guidance, online]. Baltimore, Md: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2019. Available at:. www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and/guidance-infection-control-and-prevention-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-nursing-homes. Accessed March 4, 2020.