COVID-19 public health emergency extended

By | July 24, 2020

Dive Brief:

  • HHS extended the public health emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, according to a tweet from Secretary Alex Azar.
  • The move was expected but came just days before the emergency, first declared at the end of January, was scheduled to expire.
  • The tweet from Azar did not indicate how long the emergency would be extended. It included a picture of him signing papers with the statement: “The Administration will continue its whole-of-America response to ensure Americans can get the care they need throughout the pandemic.”

Dive Insight:

Extending the PHE allows a number of regulatory changes that have been enacted to help providers manage outbreaks of the novel coronavirus to continue, including the rollback of telehealth restrictions that have eased access to virtual visits.

Other changes that will now continue include the 6.2 percentage point increase to the federal share of Medicaid funding and tweaks to value-based care programs from the CMS innovation arm.

Industry groups urged HHS to continue the declaration to ease any concern those waivers would be eliminated. A department spokesperson said at the end of June the agency expected to renew it, but no official confirmation was given until Thursday.

The American Hospital Association said in a late June letter to HHS the continued assistance from the federal government was needed. AHA and other provider groups have also asked for additional relief funds from Congress.

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