Michael Callahan, senior counsel with Katten's Health Care group, spoke with Credentialing Resource Center Journal on CMS-1135 waivers issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and what that means for credentialing and privileging in hospitals and health care facilities. Michael noted that these waivers and those issued by many states allowed for expanded and expedited ways to appoint and reappoint physicians and other providers to hospitals as well as not requiring licensees to practice in different states if licensed in one state. He stated, "In addition, federal laws, which granted immunity protections for healthcare volunteers, and state executive orders granting similar immunity from civil damages were adopted by many states for injuries" sustained to patients due to the pandemic.
Michael does not expect the trend to slow any time soon. He sees the credentialing and privileging waiver along with supporting documentation and other waivers necessitating a board-level decision on which standards they plan to relax.
He added that it is important for providers to pay close attention to when the waivers expire, often only lasting through the term of the state- or federal-declared disaster or national emergency. And that the federal waivers only apply to the treatment of Medicare patients. For liability protections, hospitals must also carefully document why they deviated from existing legal and accreditation standards. ("One year later: COVID-19 lessons learned," February 2021)