We are at a point in the US where the extra measures taken at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic are relaxing and life is going back to a level of normalcy. Because of this, a number of policies, emergency orders, and waivers are now being reversed and canceled. Though the effects of these COVID policies have yet to be fully realized, it is clear the necessity of these measures has ended and the need for reinstated regulations is more important than ever. This has led the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to revoke and remove their COVID-19 Emergency Waivers.
The CMS Waivers
During COVID, in order to address concerns and offer medical professionals more flexibility, CMS had issued a number of blanket waivers for regulatory requirements and minimum standards. The effects of these waivers is currently being investigated, but overall they allowed nursing facilities to quickly address concerns and needs without having to worry about red tape. There were waivers applied to nursing training, doctor visits, and safety protocols (such as fire safety).
The problem with the waivers is that while they were in place, we have seen a decline in the standard of care in nursing facilities which suggests they are responsible for the staffing issues, increase in abuse and neglect, and decline in quality of care that has come to light over the past two years.
CMS will be terminating specific waivers that affect skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, inpatient hospices, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IIDs), and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities. The end of the waivers means these facilities will return to normal operations in accordance with state and federal regulations and providers will be expected to “take immediate steps so that they may return to compliance with the reinstated requirements,” while also maintaining COVID-19 safety guidelines to prevent infection.
Hopefully we will see increased quality of care, better staffing, and a return to safer, more responsible care facilities as these waivers are removed. Read a full list of the terminated waivers here, and read the current CDC visitation guidelines here.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call Gharibian Law (877-875-1119) today for a free consultation and the best in legal representation.