CMS Guidance on Resuming Non-Emergency Healthcare

June 10, 2020

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guides for healthcare facilities and patients to ensure that non-emergency healthcare resumes safely and that patients receive needed in-person treatment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems and patients postponed non-emergency, in-person care to keep patients and providers safe and to ensure that the healthcare delivery system had the capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.

“Americans need their healthcare and our healthcare heroes are working overtime to deliver it safely,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Those needing operations, vaccinations, procedures, preventive care, or evaluation for chronic conditions should feel confident seeking in-person care when recommended by their provider.”

On April 19, CMS issued recommendations to safely resume in-person healthcare in areas with low incidence or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases. CMS is now providing more information as healthcare providers and facilities resume and expand in-person care delivery. Recommendations cover a range of topics to ensure patient and clinician safety, including facility considerations, testing and sanitation protocols, personal protective equipment and supplies, and workforce availability.

One of the recommendations for healthcare facilities specifically addresses visitors: “The number of visitors should be minimized. Actively assess all visitors for COVID-19 symptoms upon entry to the facility. If COVID-19 symptoms are present, the visitor should not be allowed entry into the facility and should be referred for care as appropriate.”

CMS also issued recommendations to help patients decide when to resume in-person, non-emergency care with their providers. CMS’ recommendations for healthcare facilities can be found here. The patient guide can be found in English here, and in Spanish here.