On April 16, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published a proposed rule, titled “Medicare and Medicaid Program; Fire Safety Requirements for Certain Health Care Facilities,” that would amend the fire safety standards for Medicare and Medicaid providers.  These providers include participating hospitals, critical access hospitals, long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, ambulatory surgery centers, hospices that provide inpatient services, religious nonmedical healthcare institutions and programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly.  The proposed rule adopts the 2012 editions of the Life Safety Code (“LSC”) and the Health Care Facilities Code.

In the proposed rule, CMS offers descriptions of the updated standards, which provide minimum requirements for the installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, performance and safe practices of healthcare facility materials, equipment and appliances.  For example, the proposed rule would require all structures taller than 75 feet to be outfitted with sprinklers within the next 12 years.  This would mostly affect hospitals (860 structures), of which CMS stated roughly 680 already had comprehensive sprinkler systems, about 170 had partial systems and less than 10 completely lacked a sprinkler system.  CMS also explains the benefits of the updated requirements, such as that sprinklers “would very likely allow additional time to safely evacuate a [high-rise building] facility.”

The proposed rule is expected to cost $41 million to implement in its first year and $7 million annually from year two through twelve.

The comment period ends June 16, 2014 at 5 p.m.

Read the proposed rule.

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