CMS Announces Hospital-Specific Waivers & Flexibilities for COVID-19 Response

Thoughtware Alert Published: Mar 17, 2020
Healthcare CMS

On March 13, 2020, CMS announced significant actions and regulatory flexibilities to help healthcare providers and states respond to and contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). CMS’ announcement of multiple temporary blanket waivers coincides with President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19.

Medicare Fee for Service

CMS announced flexibility in the following areas for Medicare beneficiaries:

  • Three-day acute-care stay requirement for skilled nursing facility (SNF) admission
  • Medicare beneficiaries who have recently exhausted their SNF benefits will have SNF coverage renewed without first having to start a new benefit period
  • Requirements limiting critical access hospitals to a 25-bed capacity and an average length of stay of 96 hours
  • Allowing acute-care hospitals to house acute-care inpatients in traditionally excluded units
  • Extensions to appeals filing and certain requirements related to requested supporting correspondence

View CMS’ COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Health Care Providers Fact Sheet for more guidance.


States now also have the flexibility to grant Medicaid and CHIP waivers through Section 1135. These decisions will be announced on a state-by-state basis.

Medicare Advantage

In addition, CMS issued guidance to Medicare Advantage organizations on specific Part C and Part D benefit adjustments due to the COVID-19 response planning. This guidance includes requirements under 42 CFR 422.100(m)(1) for states with active emergency declarations, as well as recommendations beyond these requirements. For more information, see CMS’ recent memo.

For more information on this developing situation, reach out to your BKD Trusted Advisor™ or use the Contact Us form below.

*This is as of the most recent regulatory announcement on March 13. We encourage you to check in with your BKD Trusted Advisor frequently on any new updates given the rapid pace of change as CMS, CDC and other governmental officials react and relay information.

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