CMS relaxes rules, easing hospitals recruiting efforts

April 13, 2020

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) suspended some rules temporarily so that hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities can boost their frontline medical staffs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These changes affect doctors, nurses and other clinicians, focusing on reducing supervision and certification requirements. The goal is to allow hospitals to hire providers quickly and ensure that those frontline workers can practice to the full extent of their professional licenses.

CMS said the new waivers add to the workforce flexibilities that the agency announced on March 30.

As a result of CMS’s action: 

•             Doctors can now directly care for patients at rural hospitals—even across state lines—phone, radio or online communication, without having to be physically present. Remotely located physicians, coordinating with nurse practitioners at rural facilities, will provide staffs at such facilities additional flexibility to meet the needs of their patients.

•             Nurse practitioners, in addition to physicians, may now perform some medical exams on Medicare patients at skilled nursing facilities so that patient needs, whether COVID-19 related or not, continue to be met in the face of increased care demands.

•             Occupational therapists from home health agencies can now perform initial assessments on certain homebound patients, allowing home health services to start sooner and freeing home health nurses to do more direct patient care.

•             Hospice nurses will be relieved of hospice aide in-service training tasks so they can spend more time with patients. 

CMS’s workforce changes apply immediately and address supervision, licensure and certification, and other limitations in healthcare settings including Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), Home Health Agencies (HHAs) and Hospice.

On March 30, CMS issued temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to allows hospitals and healthcare systems to deliver services at other community-based locations, making room for COVID-19 patients needing acute care in their main facilities.

Visit CMS for more news

Photo 111134338 © Kwanchaidt |
Photo 81363766 © Andrii Kucher |
Photo 125378010 © Komgrit Pradissagul |
Photo 36810879 © Tyler Olson |