On August 25, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new Interim Final Rule (IFR) that establishes new requirements for hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) on tracking the incidence and impact of COVID-19. Specifically, CMS has added new Medicare and Medicaid Conditions of Participation (CoPs) mandating hospitals and CAHs to report COVID-19 data to HHS during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).
This information must be reported in the frequency and format to be specified by HHS. On July 29, 2020, HHS issued “COVID-19 Guidance for Hospital Reporting and FAQs For Hospitals, Hospital Laboratory, and Acute Care Facility Data Reporting” listing the data elements hospitals and CAHs should report daily to HHS. (Please note this does not relieve hospitals and CAHs of the responsibility to also report to local and state health departments.)
Most hospitals already voluntarily report this data to HHS, but now it is mandatory to report this data in the frequency and format specified by HHS, and there are significant penalties for noncompliance. In its announcement, CMS threatens: “Hospitals will face possible termination of Medicare and Medicaid payment if unable to correct reporting deficiencies.” As set forth in further detail in the IFR, based on the PHE, CMS is waiving both the notice and comment period and the 30-day delay in the effective date and making the new reporting requirements effective on the date the IFR is published (which is expected any day). The reporting requirement will continue in effect through the COVID-19 PHE.