To our knowledge, no one has publicly disputed the CMS website statement that the waivers and flexibilities will continue until May 11, but rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals should be working to bring operations into compliance as soon as possible.
For example, as noted above, it appears that the CMS is taking the position that the Stark Law Blanket Waivers put in place during the PHE will remain in effect until the termination of the PHE. If the PHE were to end early via H.R. 382, the Stark Law Blanket Waivers would immediately terminate. Similarly, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has exercised enforcement discretion regarding certain HIPAA requirements while the PHE remains in effect. Although certain identified waivers and flexibilities will stay in place after the PHE is terminated, many end immediately. In the event the PHE ends before May 11, rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals could find themselves immediately out of compliance with certain Stark Law, HIPAA or other provisions.
Countdown to May 11
If not already doing so, rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals should determine whether their organizations are prepared for compliance post-PHE, and should review policies and procedures to work diligently toward a successful transition to a post-PHE era.
Regardless of when the PHE actually ends, rheumatologists and rheumatology professionals should consider May 11 the final deadline (except as otherwise stated) because the actions and statements from Congress and the White House seem to signal that there will be little appetite to extend COVID-era policies past that date.
A healthcare attorney can assist practices in identifying changes that will need to be made to operations, as well as when those changes must be enacted.
Emily Johnson, JD, is a nationally recognized attorney, author and speaker with McDonald Hopkins LLC. Email her at [email protected].