New CMS rules give ASCs more flexibility to fight COVID-19 pandemic

CMS has turned to ASCs to expand hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new regulations announced March 30.

What you should know:

1. Centers can contract with local healthcare systems to provide services or can enroll and bill patients as hospitals during an emergency declaration, as long as the billing is consistent with a state's pandemic plan.

2. As a result, ASCs will be allowed to perform surgeries that could not otherwise have been performed in the ASC setting.

3. ASCs can also serve as quarantine and testing sites during the pandemic. This will expand capacity to provide care to COVID-19 patients.

4. The order also allows physician-owned hospitals the ability to increase the number of licensed beds, operating rooms and procedure rooms through temporary renovations. The order also grants hospitals the ability to bill for telehealth services and for services provided outside of their four walls.

5. ASCA CEO Bill Prentice commented on the measure, saying, "The hospitals without walls program is a bold but well-considered strategy that will allow hospitals to save more lives by creating additional capacity and making it easier to use ASCs as safe sites of care for the surgeries and procedures that can't wait until the pandemic is over."

6. Despite the changes, surgery centers can still close temporarily during the pandemic. However, the facilities must reopen or terminate their Medicare enrollment contract within 30 days of the public emergency being lifted.

More articles on surgery centers:
11 centers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic l March 20
When will the coronavirus peak? It's complicated
Physicians may no longer need a new license to cross state lines

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