HCA Sends Recommendations on Continuation of Regulatory Relief 

Situation Report | June 28, 2021

The Governor’s decision to end New York’s COVID-19 emergency declaration, effective June 23, leaves many open questions about the status of emergency-era health care regulatory waivers. To address these issues, HCA last week sent to the state Department of Health (DOH) a chart detailing specific relief measures that should be continued.

In the meantime, the state has started to provide some new guidance.

Notably, state officials late Friday released a new set of guidance documents that appear to extend telehealth use and billing flexibilities at least for the duration of the federal declared emergency, which continues. (Please see related story here.) HCA is seeking further confirmation from the Department about the applicability of this guidance to home care.

In addition to Medicaid telehealth flexibility, HCA’s letter to the Department also cites the following areas for continuation:

  • Flexibility on the timing of RN supervision visits and Medicaid program initial visits in home care.
  • Allowing RN supervision through indirect means (including telephone or video communications).
  • Limited relief for aide training programs and in-service training requirements.
  • Other changes that were put into effect at various points throughout the emergency.

The health emergency had been in effect since March 7, 2020. In that time the Cuomo Administration issued executive orders and guidance that waived, suspended, or relaxed several areas of regulation.

Though the state’s emergency declaration may be over (the federal one remains in effect), the pressures and impacts on providers are persistent, including major staffing shortages and fiscal or general operational impacts that could be alleviated by the continuation of relief measures.

“Providers and managed long term care plans continue to require regulatory and fiscal considerations” to support the sector’s capability to provide services, protect patients, and support the workforce, we write. “Flexibility and support in these areas are especially critical to addressing the dire workforce shortages for paraprofessionals and professionals” which remain at “emergency and worsening levels.”

HCA will report back to the membership as we learn more about the administration’s intentions for regulatory waivers and relief measures, including HCA’s recommendations for continuity.

Please stay tuned for further updates from our conversations with the Cuomo Administration and Department of Health.