On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released a guide for patients who are considering their in-person care options following certain healthcare facilities re-opening for all medical services. As COVID-19 cases decline in some areas of the country, CMS created this guide to give patients recommendations, and to help them understand what to expect when returning to healthcare facilities.

In the guide, CMS explains that patients should not postpone urgent care amid concerns about contracting the COVID-19 virus at healthcare facilities and that they should speak with their provider about the procedures that the provider has adopted to better ensure patient safety. As CMS explains, healthcare providers should have procedures in place to clean and sanitize their facilities, socially distance patients in their waiting rooms, and have special, restricted places within their facilities for COVID-19 patients. In addition, CMS encourages patients to ask their providers if audio or audio/visual telehealth services are an option for the patient’s visit.

CMS also explains that patients may be asked to wear a facemask in healthcare facilities to limit their “risk of getting or spreading the disease” and that patients should only bring one visitor with them to their visits. CMS also instructs patients that they may need to have their temperature taken, and be asked a series of questions about their health status, before entering the healthcare facility. Finally, patients should discuss with their providers before receiving healthcare whether they should be tested for COVID-19 and vulnerable populations should still “stay home, avoid crowds, and self-isolate” as much as possible.

This guide was released following CMS’s April 19 Phase I guidance for healthcare facilities on re-opening in-person healthcare in areas of low, or relatively low and stable incidents of COVID-19 cases. In this guide for healthcare facilities, it explains that the “maximum use of all telehealth modalities” is still “strongly encouraged” and that “non-COVID-19 care should be offered to patients as clinically appropriate.”

Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse related to the COVID-19 pandemic.