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CMS Guidance on Non-emergent Care Unrelated to COVID-19

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) April 19 issued guidance for providing non-emergent health care unrelated to COVID-19.

In March, CMS recommended providers limit non-essential care during the COVID-19 pandemic to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), beds, and ventilators; free up health care workers to care for patients with greatest need; and limit exposure to the virus.

The new guidance — the first in a series of expected recommendations — are targeted to communities in Phase 1 of the administration’s Guidelines for Opening Up America Again.

CMS strongly encourages the maximum use of all telehealth modalities. However, for care that cannot be virtually delivered, and for health care systems and facilities in regions with low incidence of COVID-19, the agency provides recommendations for resuming non-essential care. General considerations include:

  • evaluating the incidence and trends of COVID-19 in the area, in coordination with state and local public health officials;
  • evaluating the necessity of the care based on clinical needs and prioritizing surgical and procedural care and high-complexity chronic disease management;
  • establishing non-COVID-19 care zones, with steps in place to reduce risk of coronavirus exposure and transmission, separate from other facilities to the degrees possible (i.e., separate building, or designated rooms or floor); and
  • ensuring sufficient resources are available, including PPE, healthy workforce, testing capacity, and post-acute care, without jeopardizing surge capacity.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.




About the Author

Maryellen Guinan is a principal policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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