Hospitals battered by the dual disasters of Hurricane Ida and the Covid-19 pandemic are getting some relief with regard to quality reporting.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has granted certain Medicare quality reporting exceptions to healthcare facilities — including acute-care hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, inpatient psychiatric facilities and skilled nursing facilities — in counties affected by Hurricane Ida.
The exceptions were made to allow facilities to direct their resources toward caring for patients and repairing structural damage.
The hurricane made landfall on Aug. 29, walloping Louisiana before making its way to several other states, including Mississippi and Alabama. The remnants of the hurricane also hit the Northeast, pummeling New York and New Jersey. As of Sept. 4, the death toll from Hurricane Ida stood at more than 60 people. This natural disaster came as Covid-19 cases were spiking across the country.
The CMS quality reporting exceptions only extend to hospitals in affected counties, as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and New Jersey. They cover measures included in the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting Program, Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program and Merit-based Incentive Payment System.
Notably, the facilities are exempt from reporting Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey results, which measure patients’ perceptions of their care experience and are linked to reimbursement.
There is one type of quality reporting that is not included in the exceptions, which CMS singled out.
Dialysis facilities should note that CMS has not issued exceptions for the End-Stage Renal Disease Quality Incentive Program, which links reimbursement for dialysis treatment to facilities’ performance on care quality measures.
But affected dialysis facilities and providers located outside the counties listed in the FEMA disaster declaration may request an exception to the reporting requirements through the applicable extraordinary circumstances exceptions, or ECE, procedures for the respective programs.
CMS will assess each extraordinary circumstances exception request on a case-by-case basis.
The agency has also taken other steps to support healthcare facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and New Jersey, including temporarily suspending survey and enforcement activities and providing a disaster preparedness toolkit for state Medicaid agencies.
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