TAFEC will regularly update this page with links to official sources on COVID-19. 

 


 

PRESS RELEASE - Rep. Arrington Applauds Victory for Elderly & Vulnerable Patients as Freestanding ERs Gain CMS Recognition

Austin, TX –In response to notification by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that freestanding emergency centers (FECs) are officially eligible to treat Medicare and Medicaid-insured patients, Representative Jodey Arrington, (R) Texas, stated the following:

“I’m pleased the Trump Administration activated freestanding emergency centers to help in the battle against COVID-19. By allowing these facilities to be reimbursed for Medicaid and Medicare, Texans have more options for care.  And, with 1,500 in new hospital bed capacity, the Lone Star State is better prepared for its economic recovery as well as any resurgence in the fall.”

The announcement from CMS comes on the heels of a letter to the agency authored by Rep. Arrington – with support from Sen. Cruz and many other members of the Texas delegation – advocating for CMS to utilize its authority to provide Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to FECs that are ready and able to serve vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. FECs’ recognition as Medicare and Medicaid-approved healthcare facilities will increase capacity to the overall healthcare system by alleviating overcrowding in hospitals and providing elderly, rural and underserved patients with more and easier access to care.

While this recent action by CMS is limited to the public health emergency, the National Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (NAFEC) will continue to advocate for a long-term solution. Permanent CMS recognition equips FECs with greater ability to expand into rural and underserved communities where healthcare infrastructure can be scarce, and patients may have few options.


PRESS RELEASE - Victory for Elderly & Vulnerable Patients: ERs Now Able to Serve Medicare, Medicaid-Insured

Freestanding ERs gain CMS recognition after a decade of requests

Austin, TX – In response to notification by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that freestanding ERs are now officially recognized healthcare providers eligible for reimbursement for treating Medicare and Medicaid patients, the National Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (NAFEC) issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid means the elderly, vulnerable and underserved in our nation will now have a host of high-quality options when it comes to emergency medical care, an improvement that is especially critical during our current healthcare crisis,” said Brad Shields, Executive Director of NAFEC.  “The freestanding ER community has advocated to be able to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients for more than a decade and we’re thrilled to finally be able to provide them with timely access to emergency medicine. We are grateful to Rep. Jodey Arrington, Sen. Ted Cruz and the many members of the Texas delegation who support freestanding ERs’ efforts to obtain CMS recognition and serve the communities we call home.”

Obtaining recognition by CMS means that freestanding emergency centers (FECs) will be able to increase capacity into the overall healthcare system and treat elderly Medicare-insured patients. FECs have shorter wait times and smaller facilities than traditional hospital ERs, are fully licensed, staffed with emergency medical personnel 24/7, and are fully equipped with ventilators and other critical equipment. While this recent action by CMS is limited to the public health emergency, NAFEC will continue to advocate for a long term solution. Permanent CMS recognition equips FECs with a greater ability to expand into rural and underserved communities where healthcare infrastructure can be scarce and patients may have few options.


PRESS RELEASE - Texas to CMS: “Let Nation’s ERs Treat Medicare Patients Now"

14 Members of Texas Congressional Delegation Call on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to Give Freestanding ERs Recognition as Medicare/Medicaid-Eligible Healthcare Facilities
    Austin, TX – April 14, 2020
 – In a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, 14 members of the Texas Congressional delegation requested that CMS utilize its authority to provide Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to freestanding emergency centers (FECs) that are ready and able to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Across the state of Texas alone, there are more than 200 freestanding emergency centers with 1,500 beds that stand ready to relieve the burden on hospitals and treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients needing emergent care,” the letter reads. “The FEC presence throughout the state is equivalent to three large, 500-bed hospitals whose estimated $1.5 billion of infrastructure can be turned on overnight without any capital expenditure at all by the government. FECs are located in rural, suburban and urban areas and their small size limits potential COVID-19 contagion between patients.”

The letter, authored by Rep. Jodey Arrington, (R) Texas, was dated April 13, 2020, and was also signed by the following Members of Congress from Texas:

      • Sen. Ted Cruz
      • Rep. Brian Babin, D.D.S.
      • Rep. Louie Gohmert
      • Rep. Michael Cloud
      • Rep. Vicente Gonzalez
      • Rep. Dan Crenshaw
      • Rep. Kenny Marchant
      • Rep. K. Michael Conaway
      • Rep. Chip Roy
      • Rep. Henry Cuellar
      • Rep. Van Taylor
      • Rep. Lizzie Fletcher
      • Rep. Randy K. Weber

FECs’ recognition as Medicare and Medicaid-approved healthcare facilities would alleviate over-crowding in hospitals, provide rural and underserved patients with more and easier access to care and help leverage untapped resources in the nation’s response to the pandemic.

Currently, FECs across the nation are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement because federal regulations have not caught up to this relatively new form of healthcare delivery. This cuts off many vulnerable and older patients dependent on Medicare and Medicaid who are at greatest risk during this healthcare crisis from a multitude of medical resources.

“The COVID-19 outbreak demands that health resources across America be fully available as we priority access and ability to treat this patient population,” said Brad Shields, Executive Director of the National Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers. “During this healthcare crisis, patients’ needs should take precedence in determining where they can seek medical care. The nation’s freestanding ERs are ready, willing and able to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients and relieve the pressure on the hospital system as soon as the federal government gives them the green light.” 

The nation’s more than 200 FECs are fully equipped emergency rooms staffed by emergency physicians, nurses and support staff and are required to provide 24/7 access to emergency health care under the same quality standards that apply to hospital emergency rooms. FECs possess key healthcare resources such as ventilators and isolation rooms that are badly needed during the pandemic.  Across the state of Texas alone there are more than 1,550 patient beds in freestanding emergency centers ready to relieve the burden on hospitals.

Letter from Members of the Texas Delegation to CMS Administrator Verma


 Petition for Governor Abbott: Let FECs be Part of the COVID-19 Solution Now!

Before activating retired, out-of-state, and not-yet-qualified medical personnel, let the thousands of committed professionals at more than 200 Texas FECs pitch in to help fellow Texans. Sign the petition to be heard!

TAFEC Members - your help is needed!

In order to support our goal of getting FECs fully mobilized and part of Texas’ plan to combat COVID-19, we have created a petition for staff, patients and supporters at our members’ facilities. 
 
Please have your teams, friends and families sign the petition and don’t forget to sign yourself! The results will be sent to Governor Abbott and released to the media, part of an on-going campaign to put pressure on our state government to get us in the game.
 
You can access and share the petition here.

We plan to wrap up the petition on MONDAY, April 13, so PLEASE CIRCULATE TO YOUR STAFF ASAP.
 
Together, we can continue to get the word out.
 
Thanks,
Brad Shields
TAFEC Executive Director


 

Texas Department of Health and Human Services 

DSHS is monitoring the new coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, China. For prevention tips, symptoms, traveler information, and healthcare provider resources, read our coronavirus information.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC is responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak.