Coronavirus update for Friday, May 1 as of 4:00 p.m.

Follow-Up to Thursday’s Interim Final Rule Release

On Thursday CMS released a second interim final rule with comment period announcing a new round of regulatory waivers and rule changes to provide additional flexibility to the health care system as the COVID-19 crisis continues and the country begins to reopen.

These changes included some of the telehealth flexibilities providers have asked for in recent weeks, such as hospital reimbursement for the originating site when telehealth services for Medicare patients are furnished by a physician or practitioner who ordinarily practices in a hospital outpatient department to a patient who is located at home or other applicable temporary expansion location that has been made provider-based to the hospital; an expanded list of telehealth codes that may be offered with audio-only technology; and an expanded list of professionals who may bill for telehealth visits.  CMS has also increased reimbursement for three of the audio-only evaluation and management telehealth services described with codes 99441-99443.

Teaching hospitals are permitted to expand their number of beds without affecting indirect medical education (IME) bed ratios; to count the time of residents sent to other hospitals; and to permit teaching physicians to remotely review services provided by residents immediately after a patient visit.

The interim final rule implements sweeping changes for many provider types.  CMS has updated its provider-specific fact sheets to include this new information.  Please let us know if you have any questions that are not answered in the fact sheets.


Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • The White House announced that CMS will be distributing $12 billion of CARES Act provider relief to 395 hospitals that have cared for 70 percent of the diagnosed COVID-19 cases.  The majority of the funds will go to providers in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.  $2 billion of this money will go toward a Medicare DSH adjustment for those hospitals.  We are still awaiting additional details.
  • CMS has announced the creation of an independent commission to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the COVID-19 emergency. See CMS’s news release and a fact sheet.
  • CMS has updated it EMTALA FAQ for hospitals to address COVID-19-related issues. 


Department of Health and Human Services


Food and Drug Administration


Department of Labor

Along with the Treasury Department, the Department of Labor has scheduled for publication in the Federal Register a notice extending certain time frames for COBRA participation during the COVID-19 crisis.

Federal Communications Commission

The FCC has awarded 13 more grants worth $4.2 million as part of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program for health care providers to provide telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency.

Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission

MACPAC has written to CMS administrator Seema Verma to express its concern that the manner in which her agency is distributing CARES Act funds designated for health care providers is not directing enough of that money to safety-net hospitals and others that care for especially large numbers of Medicaid beneficiaries.