On March 30, CMS issued a set of blanket 1135 waivers that apply to various Medicare provider types, including hospice. Long requested by NHPCO, state hospice and palliative care organizations and providers, these temporary regulatory waivers and new rules will provide some relief and maximum flexibility to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Hospice-specific waivers include:

  • Waive the requirement for hospices to use volunteers: including the 5% patient care hours.
  • Comprehensive Assessments: extended the time-frames for updating the assessment from 15 to 21 days.
  • Waive Non-Core Services: includes waiver of hospice requirement to provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.
  • Waived Onsite Visits for Hospice Aide Supervision: removes the requirement for a nurse to conduct an onsite supervisory visit every two weeks.
  • Other waivers that apply to a broader group of Medicare provider types, listed in the complete Regulatory Alert.

On March 30, CMS issued an Interim Final Rule with Comment (IRC) with policy and regulatory revisions in response to COVID-19.

The revisions that apply to hospice include:

  • Guidance to conduct face-to-face encounters through telehealth.
  • Guidance for using telehealth to provide routine home care visits.
  • Information on accelerated/advance payments.
  • Information on flexibilities for appeals.

3. On March 30, CMS released 2019-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Provider Burden Relief Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  • Announcement that CMS has suspended most medical review for Medicare FFS providers.
  • Includes TPE, ADRs, SMRC and RAC audits and more

READ All 1135 blanket waivers from CMS