CMS issued new regulations on March 30 that will allow ASCs more flexibility in treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are four question answered:
1. What types of procedures will be performed in ASCs?
Surgeons can perform essential procedures on patients without COVID-19 in ASCs that would typically be performed in a hospital, including trauma surgeries and cancer surgeries. ASCs can work with local planning authorities to make sure they provide services that keep patients safe, but not services that would put patients at more risk.
2. How will ASCs be paid for the typically hospital-based procedures that will be performed at ASCs during the COVID-19 pandemic?
ASCs will be able to contract with local health systems to perform necessary surgeries typically performed in the hospital. They can also bill as hospitals while the country is under an emergency declaration if that is consistent with the state's emergency preparedness plan.
3. Who is responsible for staffing the ASC for these procedures?
ASCs were not originally designed to have the equipment or staff needed for overnight ICU patients. It seems that the new CMS plan will allow ASCs to partner with local planning officials to make sure staffing is appropriate before accepting new patients. It appears that the ASC's staff can provide support for the essential cases that they typically do.
4. What happens if ASCs decide to stay closed?
ASCs can stay closed temporarily during the pandemic but will lose Medicare contracts if they are not open 30 days after the public emergency is lifted.
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