CMS and COVID-19: A Timeline

COVID-19 has been in the news since at least December, giving the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, plenty of time to prepare. They’ve taken a number of actions since the beginning of February, when it became clear that the illness would reach American soil and begin to spread. Here’s a breakdown of their actions in the form of a timeline.

COVID-19 Actions Timeline

April 9: CMS announced it has sent more than $51 billion in advance payments to hospitals and other healthcare providers.

April 8: CMS updated infection control guidance on COVID-19.

March 30: CMS issued regulatory changes to support hospitals, physician and other healthcare organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, including expanding Medicare coverage of telehealth visits.

March 30: CMS unveiled several broad but temporary changes that provide new flexibilities for hospitals, physicians and other healthcare organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 29: CMS sent a letter on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence requesting hospitals report COVID-19 testing data to HHS to enhance the administration’s surveillance of the coronavirus.

March 28: CMS expanded the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program to a broader group of healthcare providers to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19.

March 27: CMS approved its 34th state Medicaid waiver request to ease some regulatory requirements.

March 23: CMS approved 11 state Medicaid waiver requests that allow states to ease some regulatory requirements.

March 23: CMS rolled out an amended inspection process that state survey agencies will use to ensure healthcare facilities are prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

March 22: CMS said it’s waiving reporting requirements and extending data submission deadlines for providers and hospitals participating in Medicare quality programs.

March 19: CMS approved a waiver request from Washington state to ease some regulatory requirements from federal health insurance programs.

March 18: CMS clarified what catastrophic health plans should cover for members needing COVID-19 testing and treatment.

March 18
: CMS Administrator Seema Verma urged all hospitals to comply with the American College of Surgeons’ recommendation to cancel nonurgent elective procedures.

March 17
: CMS expanded Medicare telehealth coverage and reimbursement rules to allow beneficiaries to participate in virtual visits with their physicians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 17: CMS approved Florida’s request to eliminate such administrative burdens as prior authorization for Medicaid beneficiaries seeking essential health services.

March 13: CMS said it can waive some Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program requirements after President Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency.

March 13: New measures to limit visitors and nonessential personnel to protect nursing home residents were put in place.

March 13: CMS published information on what individual and small group health plans are required to cover in the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

March 12: CMS outlined guidance for how state programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, can respond to COVID-19.

March 12: CMS posted local payment amounts for claims received for COVID-19 test pricing until a national payment rate is determined by Medicare.

March 10: Home health agencies and dialysis facilities received guidance on screening, treatment and transfer procedures in response to COVID-19.

March 10: CMS provided more information on how nonemergency survey inspections are suspended to state survey agencies and accrediting organizations for nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.

March 10: CMS told Medicare Advantage plans to waive some requirements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

March 10: CMS updated providers on what face masks can be temporarily used amid supply pressures.

March 9: Healthcare workers in hospice settings received new guidance on screening, treatment and transfer procedures to prevent spreading the virus.

March 9: CMS released first guidance on Medicare telehealth benefits.

March 9: CMS directed all hospitals with emergency departments to screen patients for COVID-19.

March 6: CMS offered guidance on how to bill for laboratory tests and other services related to the virus.

March 5: A second code for billing commercial lab tests for COVID-19 was released.

March 4: CMS called on healthcare providers nationwide to activate infection control practices and instructed state agencies and accrediting organizations to almost exclusively focus on infection control compliance during hospital and nursing home inspections to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Feb. 13: CMS created the code U0001 to bill for use of the CDC’s RT-PCR Diagnostic Test Panel that tests for COVID-19.

Feb. 6: Labs got information on how to test for COVID-19.

Feb. 6: First memo from CMS to healthcare providers describes how to prepare for COVID-19.

What Can Your Medical Center Do In The Meantime?

While your doctors, nurses, and other staff members are on the front lines diagnosing, testing, and treating patients, you can take the necessary steps to ensure that your hospital receives all of the funding that it properly can. This involves gathering your aged claims, those sent to commercial health insurance companies that have gone past the three state-level appeals and remain unpaid. Once you’ve made a list of those claims, contact us. We’ll file Federal ERISA appeals on your behalf.