CMS Proposes Disaster Prep Rules for Senior Care Providers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a rule to improve staff emergency preparedness among its participating providers, including senior housing. 

The 120-page proposed rule would establish national emergency preparedness requirements for providers and suppliers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to ensure they “adequately plan for both natural and man-made disasters” to meet the needs of patients, residents and clients during disasters and emergency situations, according to the rule published in the Federal Register. 

Acknowledging that current regulations for Medicare and Medicaid providers are in need of improvement, CMS intends for the rule to ensure that providers coordinate with federal, state, tribal, regional and local emergency preparedness systems.

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The rule includes four elements detailing risk assessment and planning; policies and procedures; a communication plan; and a training and testing component. 

Providers will be required to establish an emergency plan based on utilizing what CMS calls an “all-hazards” approach.

This approach focuses on the capabilities that are critical to being prepared for a “full-spectrum” of emergencies or disasters, such as natural disasters and those that are man-made, including severe storms, acts of terrorism, cyber attacks and pandemics.

The proposed rule would also require a facility to develop and maintain an emergency preparedness communication plan that must be “well-coordinated” within the facility, across healthcare providers, and with state/local public health departments and emergency systems. 

Providers will also have to demonstrate that their staff has effective knowledge of what to do in the event of an emergency, as they will be required to conduct drills and exercises along with training sessions on an annual basis. 

CMS is currently seeking public comments on when these conditions of participation should be implemented. 

“The responses to the various past disasters demonstrated that our current regulations are in need of improvement in order to protect patients, residents, and clients during an emergency and that emergency preparedness for health care providers and suppliers is an urgent public health issue,” writes CMS.

View the proposed rule 

Written by Jason Oliva

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