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Section 1135 Waiver Flexibilities - Iowa Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Second Request)

Department of Health & Human Services
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard, Mail Stop S2-26-12
Baltimore, Maryland   21244-1850

May 5, 2020

Mr. Michael Randol
Medicaid Director
Iowa Medicaid Enterprise
611 5th Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Re: Section 1135 Flexibilities Requested in April 1, 2020 Communication (Second Request)

Dear Mr. Randol:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) granted an initial approval to the state of Iowa for multiple section 1135 flexibilities on March 25, 2020. Your follow-up communication to CMS on April 1, 2020, detailed a number of additional federal requirements that also pose issues or challenges for the health care delivery system in Iowa and requested a waiver or modification of those additional requirements.  Attached, please find a response to your requests for waivers or modifications, pursuant to section 1135 of the Social Security Act (Act), to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.  This approval addresses those requests related to Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  To the extent the requirements the state requested to waive or modify apply to CHIP, the state may apply the approved flexibilities to CHIP.  This applies to the waivers included below, as well as the 1135 waivers granted to the state on March 25, 2020.

On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States issued a proclamation that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States constitutes a national emergency by the authorities vested in him by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including sections 201 and 301 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and consistent with section 1135 of the Act.  On March 13, 2020, pursuant to section 1135(b) of the Act, the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services invoked his authority to waive or modify certain requirements of titles XVIII, XIX, and XXI of the Act as a result of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the extent necessary, as determined by CMS, to ensure that sufficient health care items and services are available to meet the needs of individuals enrolled in the respective programs and to ensure that health care providers that furnish such items and services in good faith, but are unable to comply with one or more of such requirements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, may be reimbursed for such items and services and exempted from sanctions for such noncompliance, absent any determination of fraud or abuse. This authority took effect as of 6PM Eastern Standard Time on March 15, 2020, with a retroactive effective date of March 1, 2020.  The emergency period will terminate, and section 1135 waivers will no longer be available, upon termination of the public health emergency, including any extensions. 

To streamline the section 1135 waiver request and approval process, CMS has issued a number of blanket waivers for many Medicare provisions, which primarily affect requirements for individual facilities, such as hospitals, long term care facilities, home health agencies, and so on.  Waiver or modification of these provisions does not require individualized approval, and, therefore, these authorities are not addressed in this letter.  Please refer to the current blanket waiver issued by CMS.

CMS continues to work on the additional waiver or modification requests that are not currently reflected in the attached approval.  For those waiver or modification requests that require approval under authority other than section 1135, such as under applicable regulations, through an amendment to the state plan, or through a section 1115 demonstration, my staff will continue to work with your team to review and make determinations regarding approval as quickly as possible.

Please contact Jackie Glaze, Deputy Director, Medicaid and CHIP Operations Group, at (404) 387-0121 or by email at Jackie.Glaze@cms.hhs.gov if you have any questions or need additional information.  We appreciate the efforts of you and your staff in responding to the needs of the residents of the State of Iowa and the health care community.

Sincerely,                                                           

Calder Lynch
Deputy Administrator and Director

STATE OF IOWA
APPROVAL OF FEDERAL SECTION 1135 WAIVER REQUESTS

CMS Response: May 5, 2020

To the extent applicable, the following waivers and modifications also apply to CHIP.

Provider Enrollment 

Iowa currently has the authority to rely upon provider screening that is performed by other State Medicaid Agencies (SMAs) and/or Medicare.  As a result, Iowa is authorized to provisionally, temporarily enroll providers who are enrolled with another SMA or Medicare for the duration of the public health emergency.

Under current CMS policy, as explained in the Medicaid Provider Enrollment Compendium (PDF, 586.81 KB) (7/24/18), at pg. 42, Iowa may reimburse otherwise payable claims from out-of-state providers not enrolled in Iowa Medicaid program if the following criteria are met:

  1. The item or service is furnished by an institutional provider, individual practitioner, or pharmacy at an out-of-state/territory practice location– i.e., located outside the geographical boundaries of the reimbursing state/territory’s Medicaid plan,
  2. The National Provider Identifier (NPI) of the furnishing provider is represented on the claim,
  3. The furnishing provider is enrolled and in an “approved” status in Medicare or in another state/territory’s Medicaid plan,
  4. The claim represents services furnished, and;
  5. The claim represents either:
    1. A single instance of care furnished over a 180-day period, or
    2. Multiple instances of care furnished to a single participant, over a 180-day period

For claims for services provided to Medicaid participants enrolled with Iowa Medicaid program, CMS will waive the fifth criterion listed above under section 1135(b)(1) of the Act.  Therefore, for the duration of the public health emergency, Iowa may reimburse out-of-state providers for multiple instances of care to multiple participants, so long as the other criteria listed above are met.

If a certified provider is enrolled in Medicare or with a state Medicaid program other than Iowa, Iowa may provisionally, temporarily enroll the out-of-state provider for the duration of the public health emergency in order to accommodate participants who were displaced by the emergency.

With respect to providers not already enrolled with another SMA or Medicare, CMS will waive the following screening requirements under section 1135(b)(1) and (b)(2) of the Act, so the state may provisionally, temporarily enroll the providers for the duration of the public health emergency:

  1. Payment of the application fee - 42 C.F.R. §455.460
  2. Criminal background checks associated with Fingerprint-based Criminal Background Checks - 42 C.F.R. §455.434
  3. Site visits - 42 C.F.R. §455.432
  4. In-state/territory licensure requirements - 42 C.F.R. §455.412

CMS is granting this waiver authority to allow Iowa to enroll providers who are not currently enrolled with another SMA or Medicare so long as the state meets the following minimum requirements:

  1. Must collect minimum data requirements in order to file and process claims, including, but not limited to NPI.
  2. Must collect Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number, and Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN/EIN/TIN), as applicable, in order to perform the following screening requirements:
    1. OIG exclusion list
    2. State licensure – provider must be licensed, and legally authorized to practice or deliver the services for which they file claims, in at least one state/territory
  3. Iowa must also:
    1. Issue no new temporary provisional enrollments after the date that the emergency designation is lifted,
    2. Cease payment to providers who are temporarily enrolled within six months from the termination of the public health emergency, including any extensions, unless a provider has submitted an application that meets all requirements for Medicaid participation and that application was subsequently reviewed and approved by Iowa before the end of the six month period after the termination of the public health emergency, including any extensions, and
    3. Allow a retroactive effective date for provisional temporary enrollments that is no earlier than March 1, 2020.

Under section 1135(b)(1)(B), CMS is also approving Iowa’s request to temporarily cease revalidation of providers who are located in Iowa or are otherwise directly impacted by the emergency. 

Provision of Services in Alternative Settings

CMS approves a waiver under section 1135(b)(1) of the Act to allow facilities, including nursing facilities (NF), intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ICF/IDDs), psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs), and hospital NFs, to be fully reimbursed for services rendered to an unlicensed facility (during an emergency evacuation or due to other need to relocate residents where the placing facility continues to render services) provided that the State makes a reasonable assessment that the facility meets minimum standards, consistent with reasonable expectations in the context of the current public health emergency, to ensure the health, safety and comfort of beneficiaries and staff.  The placing facility would be responsible for determining how to reimburse the unlicensed facility.  This arrangement would only be effective for the duration of the section 1135 waiver.

1915(i) HCBS State Plan Option Required Timeframe for Initial Evaluations and Assessments, and Re-evaluations and Reassessments 

Pursuant to section 1135(b)(5) of the Act, CMS approves a waiver allowing the state to modify the deadline for conducting initial evaluations of eligibility at 42 C.F.R. §441.715(d) and initial assessments of need to establish a care plan at 42 C.F.R. §441.720(a).  With this waiver, these activities do not need to be completed before the start of care.

In addition, pursuant to section 1135(b)(5) of the Act, CMS is allowing the state to modify the deadline for annual redetermination of eligibility required for the 1915(i) state plan benefit, as described in 42 C.F.R. §441.715(e) and 1915(i)(1)(I) of the Act, and annual reassessment of need required for the 1915(i) state plan benefit, as described in 42 C.F.R. §441.720(b).  With these waivers, the annual eligibility determinations and reassessments of need that exceeds the 12-month authorization period will remain in place and services will continue until the re-evaluation and reassessment can occur.  These actions may be postponed for up to one year.

Duration of Approved Waivers

Unless otherwise specified above, the section 1135 waivers described herein are effective March 1, 2020 and will terminate upon termination of the public health emergency, including any extensions.  In no case will any of these waivers extend past the last day of the public health emergency (or any extension thereof).

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