Developing an emergency preparedness plan is not just a good idea - it’s required. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Emergency Preparedness Rule lays out a complicated array of standards from the Federal Register. Now’s the time to ensure your disaster plan is comprehensive, organized, and fully in compliance.
Are the penalties really a big deal?
In one word, yes. After November 15, 2017, there are harsh penalties. If your organization isn’t already in compliance. The CMS won’t give leniency or extensions. Not complying can come with serious repercussions like:
- A rigorous 60-day remediation program, which can result in termination from the CMS
- Loss of funding for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries
- An NF/SNF penalty of $1,000 to $10,000 per instance, or $50 to $3,000 per day if the failure resulted in harm to patients
- An HHA penalty that suspends payment for new admissions and charges up to $10,000 per instance, or $500 to $8,500 per day
Staying on track
If you’re worried about full compliance, that’s understandable. This is a huge project. Creating a comprehensive emergency plan - especially one that meets a big list of requirements from the CMS - means hours of planning and collaboration.
You may have struggled to assign someone in your organization to the task and keep everything on track to meet the deadline. How do you know for sure that everything’s okay? What if things are missing?
For example, you’re required to collaborate with all local emergency agencies in developing your plan. Did you know that if an agency ignores your requests, you’re still required to document it? This is just one example of the tedious requirements for emergency planning.
Common compliance frustrations
Every organization trying to comply with the CMS regulations is encountering some of the same frustrations. Recognize any of these?
- The CMS doesn’t provide an exact format for us to use for the plan. So how do we know if it covers everything?
- What if we already have an emergency preparedness plan, but we don’t know if it’s what the CMS is looking for?
- There are hard-to-define terms in the regulations, like “continuity of business” and “community.” How can we be sure we’re defining them correctly?
- Organizations are required to develop emergency drills and exercises, and train all employees on them. Where do we even start with this?
- Who has to sign off on the plan? Do local officials have to give approval? Who will be checking on compliance? When?
The CMS provides some guidance on the answers to these questions, but there’s still a lot of guesswork involved. Every disaster plan is unique to its organization.
What if we’re starting to panic?
Don’t panic. You don’t have to do this alone. The best way to know if you’re on track is to work with a professional emergency management company that can provide a software solution to disaster preparedness. CMS guidelines are familiar territory for these companies.
Brightgray Solutions is well-versed in the specific documentation, policies, and procedures the CMS expects to see in your plan. They’re software developers who specialize in disaster preparation and evacuation technology.
WatchPoint AtRisk Registry software does a thorough inventory of your plan, spots anything missing or unclear, and makes recommendations for touching it up. If something’s wrong, it will be immediately obvious and you can start working on it right away.
Most importantly, a software solution ensures everything will happen within the right timeframe. Contact Brightgray Solutions today, and your organization will hit that all-important CMS deadline.