The Trump administration has relaxed some of the rules so that doctors are able to remotely care for patients who reside in rural areas during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The administration has also asked nurse practitioners to perform more duties during the outbreak as there is a growing concern over workforce capacity.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a few rules that will be relaxed for the duration of the public health emergency.
The goal is to remove certain regulatory burdens from providers so they can treat more patients with COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said, “It’s all hands on deck during this crisis. All frontline medical professionals need to be able to work at the highest level they were trained for.”
Officials have expressed concerns over workforce capacity, which has now become a persistent problem as health workers and hospital staff could be infected by the new coronavirus.
Doctors can now provide care at rural hospitals to patients through phone, radio, or online communications.
The CMS said, “Remotely located physicians, coordinating with nurse practitioners at rural facilities, will provide staffs at such facilities additional flexibility to meet the needs of their patients.”
The relaxed rules allow nurse practitioners to conduct the medical exam on Medicare patients at nursing centers.
Also, the CMS now enables “occupational therapists from home health agencies to perform initial assessments on homebound patients.”
The agency said, “This change should enable home health services to start sooner and free up home-health nurses to do more direct patient care.” However, the CMS has suspended routine surveys of hospitals and medical centers. It has also pushed back reporting deadlines for certain value-based programs.