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Section 1135 Waiver Flexibilities - Ohio Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Initial & Third Communication)

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

May 28, 2020

Maureen Corcoran
State Medicaid Director
Ohio Department of Medicaid
50 W. Town Street, Suite 400
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Re: Section 1135 Flexibilities Requested in April 14, 2020 (Initial); and May 18, 2020 (Third) Communications

Dear Ms. Corcoran:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) granted an initial approval to the State of Ohio for multiple section 1135 flexibilities on April 22, 2020.  Your initial April 14, 2020 communication and your May 18, 2020 communication included requests for additional flexibilities we can now approve. Attached, please find a response to your requests for waivers or modifications, pursuant to section 1135 of the Social Security Act, to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.  This approval addresses those requests related to Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare.

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 Social Security Act (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.  Additionally, CMS released Medicaid blanket waivers on May 15, 2020, which cover some of your requests for additional flexibilities.  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 that can be found at https://www.cms.gov/files/document/summary-covid-19-emergency-declaration-waivers.pdf.

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 Ohio and the health care community.

Sincerely,

Calder Lynch
Deputy Administrator and Director

STATE OF OHIO
APPROVAL OF FEDERAL SECTION 1135 WAIVER REQUESTS

CMS Response: May 28, 2020

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

Requirement to Obtain Beneficiary and Provider Signatures of HCBS Person-Centered Service Plan

Pursuant to section 1135(b)(1)(C) of the Act, CMS is granting authority to permit the state to temporarily waive written consent required under home and community based service programs under 42 C.F.R. §441.301(c)(2)(ix) for 1915(c) waiver programs, 42 C.F.R. §441.725(b)(9) for 1915(i) HCBS state plan programs, and 42 C.F.R. §441.540(b)(9) for 1915(k) Community First Choice programs that require person-centered service plans receive written consent from beneficiaries and be signed by beneficiaries and all providers responsible for its implementation and permit documented verbal consent as an alternate.

1915(c) HCBS Waiver Level of Care Determination and Redetermination Timeline

Pursuant to section 1135(b)(5) of the Act, CMS is allowing the state to modify the deadline for initial and annual level of care determinations required for the 1915(c) HCBS waiver, as described in 42 C.F.R. §441.302(c)(1) and (c)(2), respectively.  With this waiver, the initial determination of level of care does not need to be completed before the start of services and the annual level of care determinations that exceeds the 12-month authorization period will remain in place and services will continue until the assessment can occur.  A reassessment may be postponed for up to one year.

Suspend Pre-Admission Screening and Annual Resident Review (PASRR) Level I and Level II Assessment for 30 Days

Section 1919(e)(7) of the Act allows Level I and Level II assessments to be waived for 30 days. All new admissions can be treated like exempted hospital discharges. After 30 days, new admissions with mental illness (MI) or intellectual disability (ID) should receive a Resident Review as soon as resources become available.

Additionally, please note that per 42 CFR 483.106(b)(4), new preadmission Level I and Level II screens are not required for residents who are being transferred between nursing facilities (NF). If the NF is not certain whether a Level I had been conducted at the resident’s evacuating facility, a Level I can be conducted by the admitting facility during the first few days of admission as part of intake and transfers with positive Level I screens would require a Resident Review.

The 7-9 day timeframe for Level II completion is an annual average for all preadmission screens, not individual assessments, and only applies to the preadmission screens (42 CFR §483.112(c)). There is not a set timeframe for when a Resident Review must be completed, but it should be conducted as resources become available.

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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