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Good News: Help for Patients to See Their Health-Care Providers for Non-COVID Treatments

June 10, 2020

After months of restrictions in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released two sets of guidance for patients and providers to help restore access to appropriate in-person care for those who have non-COVID-19 related needs.

States across the country are beginning to reopen, with many states and municipalities entering a “phase one” or “phase two” stage of helping medical providers and local businesses return to normal operations. The stopping of “normal operations” had a severe impact on patients and across the economy, especially among health providers who face significant financial losses because of limitations on their ability to treat patients for conditions unrelated to COVID-19.

The new facility guidance from CMS— building on previously issued guidance— will help health-care providers through this transition, giving hospitals and other clinicians a stronger sense of how to further reopen safely to treat those with routine medical needs. The new patient guidance will help Americans better understand what to expect when seeking health care in the current environment and encourages patients not to postpone necessary care.

As CMS highlighted in their guidance, health-care systems across the country had to put off treating patients with non-emergency needs in order to put maximum pressure on the novel coronavirus.

With pockets of the country seeing a decline in cases and hospitalizations, CMS said they are providing this guidance “to ensure that non-emergency healthcare resumes safely and that patients are receiving needed in-person treatment that may have been postponed due to the public health emergency.” To continue to ensure access to care, Congress must next consider liability protections for providers to prevent them from on being— as the American Hospital Association put it— “harassed by a bunch of lawsuits.”

Health care providers can read the guidance from CMS here.

Patients can learn more here. CMS also provided a Spanish-language version here.

Want to read more on the fight against Coronavirus? Read our Coronavirus Bulletin here which contains our extensive FAQ about recent federal actions.

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