The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) sought approval March 24 from the State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance to submit DHS’ initial Section 1135 waiver request to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). DHS’ submission
includes a number of acknowledgements to support health care providers’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as:
- DHS expects all its licensed providers will operate under all CMS blanket waivers announced by CMS on March 13, 2020.
- Wisconsin is implementing all of the blanket waivers issued by CMS in Medicaid and CHIP.
The blanket waivers include CMS waiving the requirement that Critical Access Hospitals limit the number of beds to 25 and that the length of stay be limited to 96 hours. DHS’s request includes temporary authority related to a number of items, such as:
- Allowing providers to receive payments for services provided to affected beneficiaries in alternative physical settings, such as mobile testing sites, temporary shelters or other non-traditional or alternative care facilities.
- Allowing the state to draw federal financing match for payments, such as hardship or supplemental payments, to stabilize and retain providers who suffer extreme disruptions to their standard business model and/or revenue streams as a result of the public health emergency.
DHS also is seeking temporary authority on behalf of hospitals, nursing homes, and others to operate flexibly under certain specified Medicare Conditions of Participation, Life Safety Code, and other standards. DHS requested quick action by JFC “to ensure the state is able to receive flexibility to serve the people of our state during this time of emergency.”
At this time, it is not clear when there will be legislative action on DHS’ request.