The House of Representatives passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Act, in the early hours of Saturday morning. The large-scale economic relief plan aims to support Americans in combatting the spread of the coronavirus through the expansion of paid leave, food assistance, and unemployment assistance and increased federal Medicaid funding.  The Senate is expected to pass the bill early this week, and the President is expected to sign it.

Additional packages are expected to come together in the coming weeks. Today, Senator Schumer proposed at least $750 billion to combat the coronavirus as lawmakers discuss a third legislative package.  See more detail below from Schumer’s office. Those in need of federal regulatory relief or financial support should communicate needs to Congress.  We stand ready to assist if this work is not already underway.  

Additionally, on Friday, March 13, the President issued a national emergency declaration. This declaration led to a 1135 waiver, which gives the CMS the broad authority to waive many rules and regulations, including conditions of participation, program regulations, Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) rules, and Stark regulations.

Accordingly, CMS released a fact sheet, clarified that it would issue several blanket 1135 waivers under the declaration. For instance, CMS said it has made blanket waivers available for items including but not limited to the 3-day inpatient hospital stay requirements for Medicare skilled nursing facility (SNF) coverage and regulations that limit critical access hospitals to 25-bed capacities and lengths of stay to no more than 96 hours.

CMS also will establish a toll-free hotline for non-certified Medicare Part B suppliers and providers to enroll and get temporary Medicare billing privileges.  In addition, CMS said states and U.S. territories can request 1135 waivers for certain Medicaid and CHIP requirements, including:

  • Prior authorization requirements in fee-for-service programs;
  • Provider licensing location requirements; and
  • Provider enrollment and revalidation requirements.