New recommendations provide guidance to health systems and patients as COVID-19 cases decline
Under the direction of President Trump, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a guide for patients and beneficiaries as they consider their in-person care options. During the height of the pandemic, many healthcare systems and patients postponed non-emergency, in-person care in order to keep patients and providers safe and to ensure capacity to care for COVID-19 patients. As states and regions across the United States see a decline in cases of COVID-19, CMS is providing these recommendations 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.
"Thanks to President Trump's unprecedented expansion of telehealth, many patients have been able to access their clinicians while staying safe at home. But while telehealth has proven to be a lifeline, nothing can absolutely replace the gold standard: in-person care," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "Americans need their healthcare and our healthcare heroes are working overtime to deliver it safely. Those needing operations, vaccinations, procedures, preventive care, or evaluation for chronic conditions should feel confident seeking in-person care when recommended by their provider."
On April 19, CMS issued Phase 1 recommendations to safely resume in-person care in areas with low incidence or relatively low and stable incidence of COVID-19 cases. CMS is also providing more information as healthcare systems, providers, and facilities further expand in-person care delivery. Recommendations cover a range of topics to ensure patient and clinician safety, including facility considerations, testing and sanitation protocols, personal protective equipment and supplies, and workforce availability. As with Phase 1 recommendations, decisions to reopen should be consistent with federal, state, and local orders, CDC guidance, and in collaboration with state and local public health authorities.
As the country continues to reopen, patients have questions about when to resume in-person visits with their clinicians. To aid patients in making a decision that is right for them, CMS issued recommendations to help guide patients as they consider seeking in-person, non-emergency treatment. Ultimately, patients should rely on their providers' suggested course of treatment.
The recommendations can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-recommendations-reopening-facilities-provide-non-emergent-care.pdf
The new patient guide can be found in English here: https://cms.gov/files/document/covid-what-patients-should-know-about-seeking-health-care.pdf and in Spanish here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-what-patients-should-know-about-seeking-health-care-spanish.pdf
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