On May 5, 2015, the American Health Lawyers Association hosted a webinar during which a CMS representative gave his views on certain hospital co-location issues. The webinar largely focused on hospital compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs), 42 C.F.R. Part 482. The main theme of the presentation was that hospital space must remain hospital space at all times, and that co-mingling of space among separate providers, whether concurrently or in time blocks, prevents a hospital from satisfying the CoPs.
The CMS representative also made two other points worth noting. First, the CMS representative expressed his view that not only is a hospital prevented from sharing clinical space with another provider (e.g., exam and procedure rooms), but the hospital also may not share patient registration space or waiting areas with another provider. The CMS representative stated that a hospital could share certain other non-clinical areas, such as an atrium or elevator lobby, but that patient registration areas are, in his view, “hospital space” that must remain dedicated solely to a single provider.
Second, the CMS representative stated that hospitals that lease office space within their four walls to independent physicians could only do so if patients who present to see such independent physicians do not pass through any hospital space beyond an atrium or elevator lobby.
There are no promulgated regulations nor any published CMS guidance on these two points.