CMS Issues Maternal Morbidity and COVID-19 Worker Vaccination Reporting Requirements

By A.J. Plunkett

CMS is adding a maternal morbidity quality measure as well as a reporting requirement on COVID-19 vaccination rates among hospital and long-term care hospital workers as part of a 2,295-page inpatient payment rule released late Monday.

The rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register August 13, with most elements will be effective October 1. CMS also published a 14-page fact sheet summary.

In a press release highlighting the rule’s efforts to improve health equity and hospital readiness related to COVID-19 and future emergencies, CMS says it is trying to reduce disparities in maternal morbidity.

The Joint Commission issued new standards in 2020 to also increase awareness and safety on maternal morbidity and mortality, especially among women of color.

“Addressing the maternal health crisis and improving maternal health is a priority to advance health equity, and a quality improvement goal for CMS. To that end, CMS is adding a Maternal Morbidity measure to the hospital quality reporting program that would require hospitals to report whether they participate in statewide or national efforts to improve perinatal health, known as Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives. Many of the factors contributing to maternal morbidity are preventable, and differentially impact women of color. This measure is an important initial step toward implementation of patient safety practices to reduce maternal morbidity, and in turn, maternal mortality,” according to CMS.

In addition, “CMS is also adopting a measure that requires hospitals and long-term care hospitals to report COVID-19 vaccination rates of workers in their facilities. Having access to information about COVID-19 vaccination rates among health care personnel will help patients, caregivers, and their communities, make informed decisions when seeking care from hospitals, cancer centers and long-term care hospitals.”

The rule also seeks to improve hospital readiness by tracking better data.

“The final rule requires hospitals to attest they are in active engagement with public health agency to submit data for measures related to nationwide surveillance for early warning of emerging outbreaks and threats; automated case and laboratory reporting for rapid public health response; and visibility on immunization coverage so public health agencies can tailor vaccine distribution strategies. Hospital reporting of the measures will support public health agencies as they prepare to respond to both future health threats and long-term COVID-19 recovery,” according to CMS.

In a statement about the final rule, the American Hospital Association praised many of the initiatives but also said it would continue to work with CMS to help ease burden on hospitals.

A.J. Plunkett is editor of Inside Accreditation & Quality, an HCPro publication.