President and CEO
American Hospital Association
April 19, 2020
America’s hospitals and health systems remain focused on caring for, and preparing to care for, COVID-19 patients. In order to help manage the challenges this unprecedented pandemic presents, we have in large part paused and postponed elective and non-emergent care, often because of state government direction, in spite of more flexible federal guidance. Many patients have waited, understanding what our priorities had to be, but hospitals and physicians realize non-COVID health issues also need to be addressed in a timely fashion. It is important to recognize that so-called elective care or scheduled care often involves providing lifesaving treatments and procedures that are necessary to save lives and keep people healthy.
We welcome and support today’s guidance from the CMS, which complements the work that the AHA has been doing with other partners in the health field, including the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses. This CMS guidance is clearly focused on addressing important health care needs for non-COVID patients, with decisions being made by providers in collaboration with local and state public health leaders. CMS also rightly expects hospitals and health systems to maintain the flexibility needed to quickly respond to a surge should one occur in their community, and to maintain separate caregivers and locations within a facility for non-COVID care.
We continue to believe that determinations about care are best addressed by hospitals and their clinicians in collaboration with their local and state governments.