April 21, 2020

CMS Issues Recommendations for Reopening Health Care Systems

On April 19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued recommendations to reopen health care systems with low or stable COVID-19 incidence.

CMS recognizes that as certain areas and states begin to stabilize, it is important to restart non-emergent, non-COVID care including procedural care and preventive care.

The agency stated that if states or regions have passed the Gating Criteria outlined, they may then proceed to Phase I and reopening their health systems. Gating criteria include certain thresholds for downward trajectories of symptoms and cases, as well as sufficient hospital capacity and robust testing programs.

CMS emphasized that planning must be done in coordination with local and state public health authorities. CMS recommendations include the following:

  • Evaluating COVID-19 incidence and trends on an ongoing basis,
  • Determining necessity of care,
  • Having non-COVID care zones, Maintaining adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) inventories, consistent with CDC guidelines, and 
  • Enforcing proper staff screening and sanitation protocols.

For details, see the CMS press release.