On Tuesday, August 25, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released an interim final rule that updates the Medicare Conditions of Participation to require all hospitals to which 42 CFR Part 482 applies, as well as critical access hospitals (“CAHs”), to electronically report information including the number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, the number of ICU beds occupied, the number of COVID-19 patients who died in the hospital the previous day, and other COVID-19 related elements by 5 pm ET on a daily basis.

Many hospitals are currently reporting COVID-19 data on a voluntary basis. However, CMS explains in the interim final rule that it believes “universal reporting” is necessary because it “will be an important tool for supporting surveillance of COVID-19 and for future planning to prevent the spread of the virus.” CMS points hospitals and CAHs to its COVID-19 guidance for hospital reporting for the list of data that must be reported on a daily basis and the data that must be reported on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of every week.

CMS further explains in the interim final rule that the agency is working to automate hospital reporting requirements in an effort to “decrease [the] reporting burden and improve reliability.” According to the interim final rule, failure by a hospital or CAH to consistently report the required information could lead to termination from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The American Hospital Association stated on August 25 that “threaten[ing] to expel hospitals from the Medicare program” with “no opportunity to provide feedback” is a “disturbing move” by CMS that should be “reversed immediately.”

For more information, a press release that discusses additional requirements in the interim final rule is available here and a template on how to upload the reporting requirements is available here.

This interim final rule will become effective when it is published in the Federal Register, which is currently scheduled to be September 2, 2020.