CMS allows same-day Medicare enrollment during COVID-19 crisis

In the time it takes to make a phone call, you can gain temporary billing privileges during the COVID-19 emergency that will allow your providers to begin treating Medicare patients almost immediately.
In a clarification of enrollment flexibilities that CMS issued on March 23, the agency outlined several steps it has taken to expedite the enrollment process. Effective immediately, each Medicare administrative contractor (MAC) is equipped with a call center that physician practices can contact to gain temporary billing privileges for physicians and non-physician practitioners.
CMS expects your MAC to move quickly. The MAC "will attempt to screen and enroll the physician or non-physician practitioner over the phone and will notify the physician or non-physician practitioner of their approval or rejection of temporary Medicare billing privileges during the phone conversation," according to the frequently asked questions (FAQ) document from CMS.
The agency urges providers or their administrators to be prepared to supply key details in order to gain immedicare clearance. At a minimum, you should expect to provide:

  • Legal name
  • National provider identifier (NPI)
  • Social Security number
  • Valid in-state or out-of-state license
  • Address
  • Contact information, e.g., telephone number

Missing details will likely lead to a delay. "Physicians and non-physician practitioners who do not pass the screening requirements will not be g ranted temporary Medicare billing privileges and cannot be paid for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries," CMS states.
CMS is exercising its authority under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act to grant flexibilities to the provider community during the escalating COVID-19 crisis. In addition to the expedited screening, the agency is waiving the need for criminal background checks, site visits and revalidation actions.
For other providers and suppliers, including durable medical equipment suppliers, CMS is waiving the application fee and announced it will process all clean online applications within seven business days.
The agency said the MACs would issue an email confirming approval or denial of the temporary billing privileges immediately following the phone call over the enrollment hotline. In practices, that means providers could get approved for Medicare billing on the same day as the initial point of contact, provided the enrollment requirements are met.
Note that CMS also clarified how providers who are furnishing telehealth services should approach enrollment. Namely, if the provider is furnishing telehealth from their home, rather than their office, they may bill Medicare but must contact their MAC to update their billing address.
"The practitioner can add their home address to their Medicare enrollment file by reaching out to the Medicare Administrative Contractor in their jurisdiction through the provider enrollment hotline," CMS clarifies. "It would be effective immediately so practitioners could continue providing care without a disruption."
All temporary billing privileges approved during the COVID-19 crisis will end when the national emergency is lifted. Providers would then need to submit the standard CMS-855 enrollment application.
For a complete list of toll-free enrollment hotlines, access the FAQ sheet here.

Source: Part B News