President Joe Biden said Feb. 18 he will extend the national emergency, first declared March 13, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic beyond April 14.
The designation frees the government of some legal red tape and allows it to spend additional funds. Here are three areas in which ASCs and physicians stand to lose when the designation ends:
Stark Law waivers
HHS issued blanket waivers of physician self-referral laws March 30, 2020, that remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergency. These Stark Law blanket waivers temporarily remove sanctions from arrangements "solely related" to COVID-19 purposes, such as shifting care to alternative settings due to capacity restraints. The waivers exempt 18 types of remuneration and referrals and impose a good faith standard. Read more here.
Many states modified requirements for telehealth during the national emergency, in many cases allowing for coverage of out-of-state physicians. Twenty-one states currently have waivers, according to data from the Federation of State Medical Boards, and 19 states have long-term or permanent interstate medicine.
ASC to hospital CMS conversion
During the public health emergency, Medicare-certified ASCs can be enrolled as hospitals, giving ASCs hospital billing privileges. To enroll in Medicare as a hospital, ASCs must meet the hospital conditions of participation for nursing, pharmaceutical, infection control and respiratory services, as well as any other conditions not waived under Section 1136 waivers. ASCs that want to continue participating in CMS as a hospital after the public health emergency will need to submit form CMS-855A and undergo related surveying.