In a QSO memorandum issued May 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) clarifies the termination dates of specific public health emergency (PHE) waivers, including waivers regarding the physical environment.

On pages 14 and 15 of the QSO-23-13-ALL memo, CMS clarifies that waivers to allow for increased flexibilities for surge capacity and patient quarantine; inspection, testing and maintenance; fire drills; temporary walls and barriers; and outside window requirements will end upon the conclusion of the PHE on May 11.

Page 20 of the memo clarifies that the waiver for the placement of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) dispensers also will end at the conclusion of the PHE.

On pages 2, 3 and 16 of the memo, CMS clarifies the expectations for emergency preparedness requirements. For instance, the memo states that inpatient providers and suppliers are required to conduct a full-scale exercise and an exercise of choice within their annual 2023 cycle. 

Outpatient providers, however, have more flexibility and are required to conduct either a full-scale exercise or an exercise of choice within their annual cycle for 2023. If the outpatient provider scheduled the full-scale exercise, it must be completed within 2023. But if the outpatient provider elected to conduct an exercise of choice, that must be completed within 2023 and followed up with a full-scale exercise in 2024. 

This guidance will assist health care organizations in resuming normal operations, as Facilities are expected to be in full compliance with NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code ® and NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code by the end of the PHE May 11. For additional information regarding other waivers, see the Guidance for the Expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) webpage.