The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released draft guidance for state survey agencies on hospitals that share space, staff or services with another hospital or health care entity. The guidance seeks to clarify how CMS and state surveyors will evaluate these arrangements for compliance with the Medicare conditions of participation. “Prior sub-regulatory interpretations prohibited co-location of hospitals with other health care entities,” the draft guidance notes. “This guidance changes that to ensure safety and accountability without being overly prescriptive.” For example, the guidance clarifies that the entities can share public areas, such as waiting rooms and main hallways. Comments on the draft guidance are due July 2.
 
“We are closely reviewing today’s draft guidance from CMS on co-location policies for how hospitals can share space, services and staff with other providers,” said Nancy Foster, AHA vice president of quality and patient safety policy. “The AHA has long urged the agency to prioritize the release of guidance on these issues because confusion and mixed-messages about co-location can result in patients having difficulty accessing needed care. We will work with our member hospitals and health systems to offer CMS comments on how to improve the final guidance in order to create a more coordinated, patient-centered health care system.”

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