Member Q&A: Am I an “Essential Business”?

Published in Member Communities on March 25, 2020

Answer: On March 19th, the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued guidance at a Federal level regarding which business types are considered essential. It is important to note that in that memo, they clarify that “We recognize that State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role… Accordingly, this list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself.” Because of this, we strongly recommend that you contact, and stay in contact with, your LOCAL public health officials regarding which businesses are considered essential from their perspective. 

The memo goes on to list roughly 14 broad categories of essential industries, and one of those categories is healthcare/public health. Within that category, it goes on to list several specific personnel and business types. For the DMEPOS industry, while the guidance does not specifically include the words durable medical equipment provider or orthotic/prosthetic practitioner, it does list: 

  • Distributors of medical equipment, PPE, medical gases
  • Manufacturers
  • Caregivers
  • Hospital and lab personnel/other medical facilities
  • Warehouse operators
  • Pharmacies

We know of several instances where DMEPOS suppliers have reached out to their state or city officials who have issued lockdowns or shelter-in-place orders, and we don’t know of any who have categorized a DMEPOS supplier as non-essential and asked them to fully close or cease operations. In every instance we are aware of right now, DMEPOS providers have been categorized as essential and may continue to operate, though it may make sense for them to change or scale back their operations temporarily, prioritizing what has to be done now and what can wait.

Based on the information above, VGM feels comfortable stating that you, the companies who provide DMEPOS related products and services, are indeed essential during this COVID-19 pandemic. We would encourage you to have your employees carry their employment badges with them if they are out in the community throughout the day, or perhaps a letter from you, the employer, explaining why they are required to be out during a lockdown or shelter-in-place order.

VGM also reached out to Jeff Baird at Brown and Fortunato, who summarized this topic concisely with the following statement: “Federal, state and local governments are defining “Essential Services,” “Essential Personnel” and “Health Care” very broadly. The CISA memo is a good place to look for guidance and appears to have been utilized in executive orders issued by state governors. Although there is no guaranty that a governmental agency will not conclude otherwise, it is my opinion that DMEPOS suppliers can credibly take the position that they fall within the “Essential Services” category.”

The full CISA memo from the Dept. of Homeland Security can be found here.


comments powered by Disqus

From Our Experts

U.S. Rehab Launches a New Telehealth and Complex Rehab Technology Educational Course thumbnail U.S. Rehab Launches a New Telehealth and Complex Rehab Technology Educational Course Dr. Mark Schmeler, Associate Professor and the Vice Chair for Education Training in the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, Dan Fedor, Director of Reimbursement for U.S. Rehab, Kyle Walker, Director of Operations of Assistive Technology with VGM Homelink, and Greg Packer, President of U.S. Rehab, talk about a new educational program focused around telehealth and CRT. Complex Rehab ‘Takes Next Step' with New Program thumbnail Complex Rehab ‘Takes Next Step' with New Program More than anything, the University of Pittsburgh's new Master of Rehabilitation Technology program will help to raise awareness among young professionals that specializing in assistive technology is a valid profession, says Mark Schmeler. Packer Perspective: September 2020 thumbnail Packer Perspective: September 2020 “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill I found this quote to be quite appropriate for the current times we are going through this year with the pandemic. Remember that U.S. Rehab and VGM are here for your success and to help ensure that you do not have failure—and that it is not fatal if you do have some. Conquer Your Mind and Get Out of Your Own Way thumbnail Conquer Your Mind and Get Out of Your Own Way Originally featured in “VGM Playbook: Developing Your Skills for Next Level Leadership,” VGM's Lindy Tentinger introduces ways to become a better leader, both at work and at home. VGM Announces 2020 HME Woman of the Year Award Finalists thumbnail VGM Announces 2020 HME Woman of the Year Award Finalists Four finalists have been named for the 2020 HME Woman of the Year. The winner will be announced during a special virtual ceremony on Oct. 22. Now in its fifth year, the award, sponsored by VGM, recognizes one woman in the industry who has made significant contributions throughout her career to her company, community, and the HME industry. What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Why Is It Important? thumbnail What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Why Is It Important? How well you do in your life and career is determined by both IQ and EQ. IQ alone is not enough; EQ also matters. In fact, psychologists generally agree that among the ingredients for success, IQ counts for roughly 10% (at best 25%); the rest depends on everything else—including EQ. Let Us Help You Prepare for the ATP Exam with the ATP Fundamentals Course! thumbnail Let Us Help You Prepare for the ATP Exam with the ATP Fundamentals Course! U.S. Rehab has partnered with RESNA to offer our members the ATP Fundamentals in Technology course. Designed with the busy AT professional in mind, the ATP Fundamentals Course helps students review and refresh their assistive technology knowledge and identify areas for further study in preparation for the ATP exam. CEUs are available for this class. Class size is limited, so be sure to register by September 28. U.S. Rehab Introduces New-and-Improved Educational Platform thumbnail U.S. Rehab Introduces New-and-Improved Educational Platform We are excited to announce our new educational platform that highlights all of our educational offerings in one simple, easy-to-use website, powered by VGM Education. This new platform is organized to make it simpler for you to find the programs you need for yourself or your staff.