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New rules demand emergency plans for long-term care providers

Texas is a state that has its share of natural and man-made disasters. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are concerned that residents of health care facilities will be well protected and cared for during a future emergency. The owners of long\-term care facilities must comply with new rules being formulated by the CMS to assure that facilities are prepared to take care of patients during disasters and emergencies.

The CMS stresses that compliance is vital because it is important to have one comprehensive approach for emergencies shared by all institutions. The CMS also indicated that the institution's first priority in an emergency is to care for the patients. It also indicated that the current rules were closely studied and found to be inadequate to fully respond to the varieties of emergencies that can arise.

Most nursing homes and substantial providers of health care to the elderly are Medicare and Medicaid participating providers. The CMS has provided that in the future providers must meet four industry benchmarks. They are: (1) an emergency plan; (2) Develop and implement policies and procedures; (3) a communication plan in compliance with both state and federal laws; and (4) a training and testing program that contains procedures for regular testing and verification of the protocols to be used.

The agency stated that the standards will generally adjust to accommodate all types of providers who participate. For example, there is a distinction in the requirements between outpatient facilities and residential ones. Hospital and long-term care facilities in Texas and other states will be required to have emergency and standby power systems incorporated into their emergency plans. The procedure for adopting the rules included a period of public input, and the final rules will now be published in the Federal Register. Compliance must be made within one year of the effective date.

Source: ohsonline.com, "CMS Issues Final Rule to Increase Facilities' Emergency Preparedness -- Occupational Health & Safety", Sept. 13, 2016

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