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Are You Utilizing CMS COVID 19 Flexibility Or Is It Business As Usual And Tough To Maintain?


On September 20, 2020, CMS updated the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers that dates back to its initiation in March of this year. The waivers add flexibility for agencies as we deal with the health emergency in our states. Our individual states have seen downswings and upswings in infection rates and it affects our ability to provide care to our patients. Making sure you know and understand the waivers can make the difference in providing care to your patients and keeping your staff at work.

What’s Happening With Your Staff?

Just like the rest of the world, your staff is dealing with the effects of virtual learning and quarantines that affect the needs of them to stay home with children. Staff has also dealt with their own COVID illnesses and family members affected. So, let’s say you currently have 3 nurses in your agency who now (and suddenly) have to stay home to home school kids and can’t leave to make visits. In a small agency, 3 nurses out of commission is huge. So, the waivers allowed by CMS keeps you in compliance with caring for your patients while utilizing virtual visits and supervision. Let’s look at some of the waivers.

  • Extending Oasis Timeframes: The 5 day completion is extended to 30 days while the 30-day submission is currently waived during the pandemic.
  • HHA On-Site Supervision Waived: While virtual supervision is encouraged during this time, an RN doesn’t have to go on site to complete the every 2-week supervision requirement for home health or hospice.
  • Therapy Disciplines Can Complete Initial/ Comprehensive Assessments: This allows agencies to utilize these disciplines to do these assessments even when nursing is involved/ordered. They are not able to complete initial or comprehensive in nursing only cases, but this gives some flexibility to nursing staff.
  • 12-Hour Annual HHA In-service Training: This allows your training to be postponed until the end of the first full quarter after the end of the pandemic. Ultimately, this is so your RNs who teach are allowed to focus on direct patient care.
  • Annual On-Site Evaluations Of HHA: These now do not have to be completed until 60 days after the expiration of the pandemic health emergency.
  • Hospice Aide Competency Testing: The requirement waived is that competency must be completed on an actual patient in the home. Now, it can be done on a pseudo-patient. The speed in which competency testing improves under this waiver allows aides to begin seeing patients sooner.

Now, we’ve only discussed a portion of the waivers, but if you are that agency with 3 nurses out of the picture due to COVID or your patient census has greatly increased, it is a game changer. Many agencies have continued most operations as usual, but waivers helps to decrease exposure and cost. If you are unsure of all the waivers that may help alleviate the pressure on your agency, then make sure to review them on the CMS site.

At Kenyon Homecare Consulting, we want to help agencies provide high-quality care to patients. Call us today at 206-721-5091 or contact us online to see how we can help you be the best at what you do!

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