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CMS Issues Interpretive Guidance for Emergency Preparedness

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released interpretive guidance for emergency preparedness provisions in a 2019 final rule.

The final rule targeted emergency preparedness, hospital quality program requirements, infection control, and physical examinations. In particular, the rule reduced certain regulatory burdens for providers in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, including requiring hospitals to update their emergency preparedness plans every two years versus the prior annual requirement.

In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, CMS is updating its guidance document to further expand on best practices, lessons, and planning considerations for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs). The document:

  • clarifies expectations for documentation of the emergency program;
  • adds guidance and considerations for EID planning stages, to include personal protective equipment;
  • adds guidance on risk assessment considerations, to include EIDs;
  • includes planning considerations for surge and staffing;
  • expands guidance for surge planning, including recommendations for natural disaster and EID surge planning;
  • recommends facilities monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies during public health emergencies for health care workers guidance;
  • expands guidance and adds clarifications related to alternate care sites and Section 1135 waivers;
  • expands guidance and best practices related to reporting of facility needs, ability to provide assistance, and occupancy reporting; and
  • provides clarification on testing exercise exemptions when a provider or supplier experiences an actual emergency event.

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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