WASHINGTON (CN) – Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has temporarily waived some federal requirements so health care facilities can implement emergency plans to combat the H1N1 flu pandemic.
The president proclaimed on Oct. 23 that regulatory provisions may be suspended because, “the H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve” and because “the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities.”
The secretary has waived pre-approval or facility member conditions, so medical providers are still paid for their services; the requirement that doctors have a medical license in the state they are providing services; and the prohibition against moving patients that are not medically stable, to screen them for H1N1, if the situation warrants it. The department also is allowing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to waive sanctions, and Medicare Advantage patients to go to medical providers outside the plan’s network. Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP deadlines also may be changed to the extent necessary for the emergency, so there are enough items and services for patients in these programs.
In addition, if hospital disaster protocols are in operation because of the provider’s proximity to an outbreak, the hospital does not have to distribute a notice of privacy practices, obtain a patient’s permission to speak with family members or friends, or comply with a patient’s request for privacy restrictions or confidential communications, for approximately three days.
If individuals are discriminated against due to ability to pay, the waivers regarding privacy and being moved to be screened do not apply.
The waivers and modifications are retroactive to Oct. 23.