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CMS Issues Proposed Emergency Preparedness Regulations

January 8, 2014 | No Comments
Posted by Beth Christian

As the nation struggled with historically low temperatures and many providers dealt with emergencies arising from the extreme weather, CMS issued proposed regulations which would implement additional emergency preparedness requirements for a wide range of Medicare-participating providers and suppliers. The proposed regulations are designed to ensure that providers and suppliers are adequately prepared for both natural and man-made disasters, can meet the needs of patients when these situations arise, and that emergency preparedness efforts are coordinated with governmental emergency response systems. If adopted, the proposal would apply to a wide range of providers and suppliers, including (but not limited to) hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, ambulatory surgery centers, hospices, PACE organizations, and dialysis facilities. They would not be applicable to physician practices.

The proposed rule would require participating providers and suppliers to meet the following four standards:

  1. Emergency plan—Providers and suppliers would be required to perform a risk assessment and develop an emergency plan using an all-hazards approach focusing on capacities and capabilities.
  2. Policies and procedures—Additional policies and procedures would need to be developed and implemented based on the emergency plan and risk assessment referenced above.
  3. Communication plan—Providers and suppliers would need to develop and maintain a communication plan that complies with both Federal and State law. The plan would need to ensure that patient care is well-coordinated within the facility, across health care providers, and with State and local public health departments and emergency systems.
  4. Training and testing program—Providers and suppliers would be required to develop and maintain training and testing programs, including initial and annual trainings. They would also be required to conduct emergency preparedness drills and exercises or participate in an actual incident that tests the plan.

CMS indicated that it developed the proposal after reviewing existing regulatory requirements and finding that they were not comprehensive enough to address the complexities of emergency preparedness. CMS found that exiting requirements did not address the need for: (1) communication to coordinate with other systems of care within cities or states; (2) contingency planning; and (3) training of personnel. The requirements will be tailored to the specific type of provider and the patient population that they serve. CMS is soliciting comments on whether or not the proposed requirements need to be modified further to reflect the characteristics of each type of provider and supplier.

While institutional providers in New Jersey such as hospitals and nursing homes already work on emergency preparedness in concert with state and local governmental agencies and trade organizations on an ongoing basis, the proposed requirements will encompass a broader range of providers and suppliers. The text of the proposed regulations can be found here: http://www.ofr.gov/%28X%281%29S%28vp32o25ckyhpvspfpzx3owe4%29%29/OFRUpload/OFRData/2013-30724_PI.pdf

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