CMS to Phase Out Blanket COVID-19 Waivers in Certain Healthcare Facilities
By: Emily H. Lineweaver
On April 7, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it was phasing out certain temporary emergency declaration blanket waivers that had been in effect during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). This announcement pertains to specific blanket waivers for skilled nursing facilities/nursing facilities (SNFs/NFs), inpatient hospices, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities. Blanket waivers remain in effect to assist hospitals and critical access hospitals.
CMS cited vaccination rates for nursing home residents and staff and an overall improvement in facilities’ response to COVID-19 outbreaks as reasons why they were phasing out these waivers. However, providers are expected to continue to implement actions that will reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. CMS will maintain the ability to issue facility-based waivers as needed until the expiration or termination of the COVID-19 PHE. Other waivers end for affected providers 60 days from publication of the memorandum. These include waivers that relax certain conditions of participation and certification requirements for opening NFs, exempt ESRD facilities from conducting on-time preventative maintenance of dialysis machines and equipment, and modify requirements regarding training of paid feeding assistants and nursing aides.