COVID-19 Update: CMS Provides Additional Flexibility During Pandemic
May 11, 2020
On April 30, 2020, The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new set of waivers aimed at relieving financial pressure on Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs to address the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following is a summary of waivers directly related to GME Programs:
Temporary Bed Increase Will Not Impact IME Payments
For the duration of the public health emergency (PHE), temporary beds may be increased without facing reduced payments for indirect medical education (IME). More specifically, the rules state that “the hospital’s available bed count is considered to be the same as it was on the day before the COVID-19 PHE was declared” (see page 63 of CMS-5531-IFC).
Increased Admittance Will Not Reduce Teaching Status Payments for Inpatient Psych and Rehab Facilities
More patients may be admitted to inpatient psychiatric (IPF) and rehabilitation facilities (IRF) without facing reduced teaching status payments. The rule states, “for the duration of the COVID-19 PHE, an IRF’s or an IPF’s teaching status adjustment payment amount will be the same as it was on the day before the COVID-19 PHE was declared” (see page 64 of CMS-5531-IFC).
Shifting GME Residents Penalty-Free
Medicare payments, both direct and indirect, will not be reduced when residents are shifted to other hospitals when certain conditions are met. Additionally, non-teaching hospitals will not be penalized for accepting GME residents on an emergency basis. This will allow teaching hospitals to increase capacity and disburse staff to affected COVID-19 areas while minimizing financial burden (see pages 66-68 of CMS-5531-IFC).
The goal of these significant changes is to alleviate pressure on hospitals caused by the pandemic. You can read more details on these waivers along with additional waivers at the following link: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-medicare-and-medicaid-ifc2.pdf