On Wednesday March 4, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released three guidance documents for health care providers relating to the coronavirus.  Worldwide there have been 96,888 confirmed cases, resulting in 3,305 fatalities, including 11 deaths in the United States.

In a press release, CMS stated that the actions taken were “focused on protecting American patients and residents by ensuring health care facilities have up-to-date information to adequately respond to COVID-19 concerns while also making it clear to providers that as always, CMS will hold them accountable for effective infection control standards.”  Specifically, CMS issues a call to action to health care providers to ensure they have implemented infection control procedures. Also, CMS is suspending non-emergency inspections, enabling inspectors to focus on curbing the spread of COVID-19. CMS published three memoranda to state survey agencies. The first memorandum includes guidelines for inspections in situations in which a patient is suspected of having COVID-19. The second memorandum responds to questions received by the agency and includes guidance to hospitals in addressing the COVID-19 outbreak and minimizing transmission to patients and health care workers. The third memorandum provides additional guidance to nursing homes to help control and prevent the spread of the virus. More information, including the three memoranda, are available at https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-actions-address-spread-coronavirus.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Trump administration may use National Disaster Medical System funding to pay hospitals and doctors when they provide care to the uninsured individuals for the coronavirus.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed $8.3 billion in emergency spending to combat the virus and the Senate is expected to pass the spending package quickly.  The U.S. Federal Reserve also announced an emergency rate cut of .5% in response to concerns about the economic ramifications of the coronavirus.

On March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization increased the percentage of fatalities caused by the virus, announcing that 3.4 percent of those diagnosed with covid-19 have succumbed to the illness.  During the March 4, 2020 briefing, the Director General of the WHO stated that “119 countries have not detected any cases, and of the 75 countries with cases, 47 have 10 cases or less.”  The Director General also stated that the WHO “is concerned that in some countries, the level of political will does not match the level of the threat we face.”  On the same day the International Olympic Committee released a statement affirming “its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo, which is scheduled for July 24, 2020 to August 9, 2020.

The Health Law Pulse will continue to provide updates as more is known about this public health crisis.