It’s been nearly 90 days since compliance with the CMS Emergency Preparedness (EP) Rule became obligatory for healthcare providers receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. Yet, many are still trying to meet the ruling’s four core requirements for 1) risk assessment and emergency planning, 2) communications, 3) policies and procedures, and 4) training and testing. If your organization is among these organizations, time may be on your side. But, not for long.

Checks to determine your facility’s compliance with the ruling will come during its regularly scheduled survey cycle by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. And, it’s pass or fail. Failure to comply with CMS’ EP rule could mean costly citations, or even worse, the loss of vital Medicare and Medicaid funding.

For many in the healthcare industry, the process of developing an all-hazards emergency preparedness plan is a new and daunting task. Even with basic training, it’s easy to overlook necessary plan components and dependencies that are critical to complying with the CMS ruling. For others with the resources and experience, the process may be relatively easier, but additional modifications and testing may be necessary before State Survey Agency (SA) and Regional Office (RO) surveyors knock at the door.

As a reminder, CMS-specific plan components include, but are certainly not limited to, patient/staff allocation and relocation counts, Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) checklists, Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP)-compliant documentation, and 1135 Waivers and reference libraries guidance.

If developing or maintaining an emergency preparedness plan that fulfills these basic requirements seems unlikely, or even unrealistic, between now and your impending compliance survey, look outside the walls of your facility for guidance.   

For starters, turn to ASPR TRACIE. This healthcare emergency preparedness information gateway ensures that all stakeholders— federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and in the private sector—have access to information and resources to improve preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts.

ASPR TRACIE hosts a variety of rule-related resources on TRACIE’s dedicated CMS Resources Page. These vital resources not only help a growing number of healthcare facilities co