New guidelines issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waive the in-person testing and signature for delivery requirements for supplemental oxygen.

The latest rules, issued March 30, come in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and seek to limit contact between vulnerable Medicare patients and healthcare workers or HME providers.

From the CMS policy:

For the duration of this PHE for the COVID-19 pandemic, it is in the best interest of patients, healthcare professionals and suppliers to limit face-to-face encounters and avoid exposure of vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries to COVID-19. Therefore, on an interim basis, we are finalizing that to the extent an NCD or LCD (including articles) would otherwise require a face-to-face or in-person encounter for evaluations, assessments, certifications or other implied face-to-face services, those requirements would not apply during the PHE for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, the new policies will protect patients with respiratory illnesses while also ensuring that they receive the necessary care and supplies at home.

“These CMS rule adjustments will allow patients to remain as safe as possible and avoid exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19, while continuing to receive lifesaving oxygen,” said William T. Schmidt, President and CEO of the PFF. “We were proud to lead several national healthcare organizations in advocating for public policies that will improve the lives of our patients and caregivers.”

The CMS supplemental oxygen policy is available here (see pg 128-129).