CMS Issues New Proposed Rule on Disaster Preparedness

CMS Logo 2The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a new proposed rule in the Federal Register on Friday, December 27, 2013. This is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and is not a Final Rule. CMS is soliciting comments on this proposed rule concerning healthcare facility disaster preparedness, and the general public has 60 days to respond.

Being a Federal Agency, CMS must follow the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 whenever they want to add, remove or change a rule or regulation, and they must issue a public notice in the Federal Register that they are proposing a new rule. Then there is a 60-day window for the public to respond with comments to the proposed rule. After the 60-day window is over, CMS will take the time to review the comments made and will respond to them when they issue a final rule, in about 6 months or so (my guess of time- not theirs). The changes that CMS is proposing are to the respective Conditions of Participation or Conditions for Coverage to 17 different sets of rules (or laws) for healthcare organizations.

I have started an initial review of the proposed rule and I like what I see. CMS  identified four core elements that they believe are central to an effective emergency preparedness system and must be addressed by healthcare organizations to offer a more comprehensive framework of emergency preparedness requirements for the various Medicare- and Medicaid-participating providers and suppliers. The four elements are—(1) risk assessment and planning; (2) policies and procedures; (3) communication; and (4) training and testing.

CMS admits that they took into consideration the existing standards and regulation of national agencies, such as The Joint Commission and AOA/HFAP. The current CMS Conditions of Participation (CoP) for acute care hospitals are light on specific requirements for emergency management, and most experts agree that The Joint Commission Emergency Management chapter provided better guidance for healthcare facilities than any other standard.

Below is the link to the proposed disaster preparedness rule that was published today.

I encourage you to review the proposed new rule and if you have a comment, please follow the directions and submit it to the CMS. They will appreciate your insight and considerations.

After you have reviewed the proposed new rule, please let me know what you think of it.