Emergency Preparedness Policy Changes Proposed by CMS
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule regarding their continuing efforts to reduce regulatory burden. As part of the rule, CMS is proposing changes to Emergency Preparedness policies. Current Emergency Preparedness policies ensure the following; facilities maintain access to services during emergencies, provide safety for patients, safeguard human resources, maintain business continuity and protect physical resources. The proposed rule is said to reduce the complexity of these requirements to allow providers to focus their time and resources on actual patient care.
Proposed changes to Emergency Preparedness policies:
- Emergency program: Give facilities the flexibility to review their emergency program every two years, or more often at their own discretion. A comprehensive review of the program can be an extensive process that may not necessarily yield much to change over a course of only a year. Those facilities that hold more frequent reviews, will need to make changes according to their findings. The combination of all Emergency Preparedness requirements (policies and procedures, testing, communication plan) will continue to hold facilities accountable for their outcomes while allowing them more time to focus on their unique needs and specific circumstances
- Emergency plan: Eliminating the duplicated requirement that the emergency plan includes documentation of efforts to contact emergency preparedness officials on the local, tribal, regional, state, and federal levels. Along with further documentation of the facility's participation in collaborative and cooperative planning efforts. These actions are already contained in other required regulations.
- Training: Give facilities greater control in revising training requirements to allow training to occur annually or more often at their own discretion. Overly restrictive training requirements can have unintended consequences in preventing facilities from focusing their training efforts on what makes sense in unique circumstances.
- Testing (for inpatient providers/suppliers): Increasing the flexibility for the testing requirement so that one of the two annually-required testing exercises may be an exercise of the facility's choice. While two annual tests are still required, flexibility is provided so that one of those training sessions can be done through various innovative methods such as simulations, desktop exercises, workshops, or other methods that may best meet the needs of the facility and the patients that they serve. The second training must continue to be a full-scale community exercise.
- Testing (for outpatient providers/suppliers): Revising the requirement for facilities to conduct two testing exercises to one testing exercise annually. Additional testing will be at the facilities' discretion based on their unique needs. This will allow facilities to modernize their testing to use innovative methods such as desktop drills and simulations.
If you are interested in reading more on the proposed changes, it can be accessed HERE. In the meantime, Healthcare Compliance Pros will be watching this rule closely. We recommend all practices continue their efforts to ensure that they are prepared in the event of a disaster natural or otherwise.