FEMA sets deadlines for COVID-19 program funding

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that costs incurred after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) ends May 11 will not be eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Public Assistance Program. However, the guidance also states that because costs may be incurred for demobilization, disposition and disposal activities after the PHE ends, FEMA is providing a limited 90-day extension ending Aug. 9. This interim policy supersedes a previous version of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Public Assistance Programmatic Deadlines, released on June 15, 2022. 

CMS categorical waiver allows for microgrid systems

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a waiver permitting most health care facilities to use emergency power sources, such as a health care microgrid system, to power essential electrical services (EES). Previously, all EES were required to be powered by a generator or battery system. The categorical waiver applies to all health care facilities that CMS requires to comply with the 2012 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, with the exception of long-term care facilities that provide life support and must have an emergency generator, thereby not qualifying for the categorical waiver. Those applying for the waiver must ensure their systems comply with the 2021 edition of NFPA 99, the 2023 edition of NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® and other applicable references.

FCC finalizes, seeks comments on rural telehealth

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a final rule adopting changes proposed last year to the Rural Health Care Program, which aims to support rural health care providers with the costs of broadband and other communications services for patients in rural areas that may have limited resources, fewer doctors and higher rates than urban areas. The program will allow rural health care providers to adopt telehealth at a faster rate. The agency also released a rule seeking comment on additional proposals, including changes intended to speed program funding to providers and fine-tune the rules for determining rural and urban rates. 

The Joint Commission releases sentinel event data

The Joint Commission recently released its Sentinel Event Data 2022 Annual Review. For 2022, The Joint Commission received 1,441 reports of sentinel events; 90% or 1,299 of the events were voluntarily self-reported to The Joint Commission by an accredited or certified entity. The number of reported sentinel events increased by 19% compared to 2021. The majority of reported sentinel events occurred in the hospital setting (88%). As in previous years, patient falls were the most commonly reported sentinel event (42%) in 2022. The remaining leading categories were delay in treatment (6%), unintended retention of a foreign object (6%), wrong surgery (6%) and suicide (5%). In terms of outcomes, 20% of reported sentinel events were associated with patient death, 44% with severe temporary harm and 13% with unexpected additional care/extended stay.