The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) has commended the Trump Administration and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma for sweeping regulatory changes the agency announced to address the surge in the number of patients requiring care expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the agency’s new “hospitals without walls” program, hospitals will now be able to transfer patients to outside facilities, including ambulatory surgery centers (ASC). Also, ASCs will be able to contract with local healt hcare systems or enroll and bill as hospitals during the emergency declaration as long as those actions are not inconsistent with their state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan.
ASCA Chief Executive Officer Bill Prentice thanked Administrator Verma and CMS staff for “creating a bold but well-considered strategy that will allow local health systems to use care settings like ASCs to relieve the enormous stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on our health care system.”
“These CMS waivers to expand the role of ambulatory surgery centers,” he added, “will allow hospitals to save more lives, creating additional capacity and making it easier to use ASCs as safe sites of care for the surgeries and procedures that can’t wait until the pandemic is over. We will be urging our members to engage with their local hospitals so this new flexibility can improve care when and where needed.”