HHS spokesman Michael Caputo on Monday tweeted that HHS intends to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency that is set to expire July 25.
The extension would prolong the emergency designation by 90 days. Several payment policies and regulatory adjustments are attached to the public health emergency, so the extension is welcome news for healthcare providers.
HHS "expects to renew the Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19 before it expires. We have already renewed this PHE once," Caputo said.
Provider groups including the American Hospital Association have urged HHS to renew the distinction.
Some notable policies attached to the public health emergency are the Medicare inpatient 20% add-on payment for COVID-19 patients, increased federal Medicaid matching rates, requirements that insurers cover COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing, and waivers of telehealth restrictions.
Adjustments CMS made to the Medicare Shared Savings Program for accountable care organizations are also connected to the length of the public health emergency. The number of months the emergency lasts affects the amount of shared losses an ACO must pay back to CMS.
Even if HHS maintains the public health emergency, some changes the Trump administration has made to help healthcare providers also depend on a separate Stafford Act national emergency declaration staying active. These changes include CMS Medicaid waivers that allow bypassing some prior authorization requirements, temporarily enrolling out-of-state providers, delivering care in alternative settings, and pausing fair hearing requests and appeal times.