HHS renews COVID-19 public health emergency another 3 months

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has extended the COVID-19 public health emergency through October and with it key flexibilities on telehealth and reporting deadlines.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced Friday that the emergency, first issued in January 2020, will be extended again for another 90 days. 

The agency has long agreed to give stakeholders a 60-day warning if the emergency will not be extended again. Becerra has previously said the agency won’t be able to give any longer notice.

That notice could help stakeholders prepare for the removal of major flexibilities for the use of telehealth, including the waiver of originating site requirements and other barriers to reimbursement for telehealth use. 

The end of the emergency will also mean states must start the arduous task of redetermining Medicaid eligibility. 

At the start of the pandemic, states were offered an increase in their federal matching rate if they agree to not drop anyone off Medicaid rolls. When the public health emergency ends, though, states have 14 months to fully redetermine each Medicaid beneficiary’s eligibility.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has offered guidance for state Medicaid agencies to prepare for the unwinding, including ensuring contact information is up to date.