The CMS Final Rule for Emergency Planning and Preparedness – Are You in Compliance?

CMS Final RuleA significant number of healthcare providers in the United States must soon comply with a federal agency regulation (81 CFR 63859) authored by the Obama administration called the CMS Final Rule for Emergency Planning and Preparedness. The deadline for compliance – November 15, 2017 – is rapidly approaching. The rule applies to all healthcare providers and suppliers that accept Medicare or Medicaid.

In this video, Dr. Donald A. Donahue, Jr., a faculty member of the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), explains that far too many healthcare providers in America are insufficiently prepared for emergencies. One factor influencing the promulgation of the Final Rule by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in September 2016 is the existence of inconsistency with respect to emergency preparedness across all healthcare provider types, from hospitals and hospices to ambulatory surgical centers and long-term care facilities (e.g., nursing homes). What, specifically, must providers do by November 15, 2017 to make sure they comply with the Final Rule? Recent natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Sandy each exposed serious inadequacies across the healthcare system regarding the ability of providers to continue normal operation in the face of extreme weather conditions, surging patient volumes, and other pressures that can impede business continuity. According to Dr. Donahue, before the Final Rule takes effect, all healthcare facilities subject to the CMS mandate must take concrete steps toward developing comprehensive plans in the realm of disaster preparedness. Failure to do so, or failure to do so in an adequate or timely manner, can have repercussions ranging from increased reporting requirements to withholding of funding. Providers that do not comply may even face expulsion from the Medicare and Medicaid programs and risk being unable to continue as financially solvent organizations.

Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued an advance copy of interpretive guidance for the Final Rule in the form of a revised Appendix Z of the State Operations Manual (SOM). According to the introduction to the revised Appendix Z, “[t]he interpretive guidelines and survey procedures in this appendix have been developed to support the adoption of a standard all-hazards emergency preparedness program for all certified providers and suppliers while similarly including appropriate adjustments to address the unique differences of the other providers and suppliers and their patients.”

For more information on this important topic, please contact the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS). The ABPS is the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists®, Inc.

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On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
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Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
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Internal Medicine
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Emergency Medicine
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Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
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Internal Medicine