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CMS Emergency Declaration Waiver: Hospitals Can Flex Maintenance Rules

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COVID-19 response has placed a heavy, sometimes overwhelming burden on healthcare facilities across the US. With additional work, care, and precautions becoming a part of everyday life, there are many on the medical front lines who are feeling stretched a little thin these days. That's why we're pleased to share a recent measure from CMS that offers some areas of relief.

Keep reading to learn more about how your imaging team can find some flexibility in their workflow through the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers from CMS.

What Does the CMS Waiver Say About Imaging Equipment?

 On April 29, 2020 CMS issued the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers. These waivers increase regulatory flexibility in a number of ways, for a variety of medical facilities. Telehealth providers, rural hospitals, inpatient rehab, hospice, and more- there's flexibility in these waivers that will, at least in some small way, make your job a little easier as the pandemic and all of its repercussions continue to unravel.

Of peak interest to the sector of the medical field Block Imaging serves- radiology managers, techs, service engineers- is the section titled "Physical Environment for Multiple Providers/Suppliers". In this section healthcare facilities are notified that, "CMS will permit facilities to adjust scheduled inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) frequencies and activities for facility and medical equipment." Under this waiver, the regular equipment maintenance compliance required by CMS for facilities to be eligible for medicare/medicaid reimbursements can be deferred or rescheduled due to the extenuating circumstances of the COVID pandemic.

With the waiver in place, an HTM department that might be disproportionately focused on COVID-related equipment like X-ray machines, CT scanners, or ventilators, can defer maintenance on modalities like mammography or DEXA until their personnel regain some day-to-day bandwidth.

Is Anything Excluded from the Waiver?

There are certain devices and equipment that must continue their regular maintenance schedule during the emergency declaration. All of these exclusions from the waiver are facility-related and not pertinent to medical imaging. They are:

  • Sprinkler system monthly electric motor-driven and weekly diesel engine-driven fire pump testing.
  • Portable fire extinguisher monthly inspection.
  • Elevators with firefighter's emergency operations monthly testing.
  • Emergency generator 30 continuous minute monthly testing and associated transfer switch monthly testing.
  • Means of egress daily inspection in areas that have undergone construction, repair, alterations, or additions to ensure its ability to be used instantly in case of emergency,

How Long Is the Waiver in Effect?

The provisions of the waiver are in effect until the end of the federal emergency declaration. At that point, scheduled maintenance will need to resume on the full range of facility and medical equipment.

The Takeaway

If your facility is swamped due to COVID screening, admissions, and treatment, CMS has given you breathing room to space out your regular scheduled equipment maintenance without incurring any penalty to your Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements. 

If you prefer to stay on schedule with your maintenance, or if the waiver doesn't provide enough relief for your taxed maintenance staff, we can help. Our team can support and supplement yours with engineers on a non-contract basis. Use the button below to see more details on our service program or call our Service Line directly at 517-999-7066.

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