February 2, 2022

AHA: Pandemic-allowed waivers that should be extended, formalized

Editor's Note

The American Hospital Association (AHA) released a new fact sheet describing various waivers issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) during the COVID-19 pandemic that AHA opines should be extended or made permanent, as reported by the January 31 Healthcare Purchasing News. The waivers relate to: telehealth, hospital-at-home programs, workforce, quality, patient safety, patient privacy, and care delivery in rural areas.

Here are a few highlights on waivers related to telehealth, workforce, and patient safety/privacy.

  • Telehealth: Hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) and critical access hospitals should permanently be allowed to bill for telehealth services; hospitals should be allowed to bill the originating site fee when hospital-based clinicians provide telehealth services to patients who would normally get seen at an HOPD. These would require legislation.
  • Workforce: Certain practice limitations that are more restrictive under CMS for nurse practitioners should be eliminated; certain licensure requirements to facilitate out-of-state providers to perform telehealth services should be removed; certain extensions to residency cap-building periods for new graduate medical education programs to account for COVID-19 related challenges (including challenges with recruitment and staffing) should be allowed. These would require regulatory action; any state-level changes would require legislation.
  • Patient safety/privacy: Relief on timeframes related to pre- and post-admission patient assessment and evaluation criteria should continue to be granted, so hospitals can better manage as more non-COVID-19 patients return for care; “temporarily continue” the waiver of sanctions and penalties against hospitals that do not comply with elements of the HIPAA privacy rule. These would require regulatory action.

To download the complete fact sheet—“Fact sheet: covid-19 waivers that should be extended, made permanent or enacted in order to improve patient care”—visit the AHA website.


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