The Biden administration has renewed the Public Health Emergency (PHE) that has been in effect since January 27, 2020 due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The Department of Health & Human Services released the following statement on Friday afternoon, July 15:
As a result of the continued consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, on this date and after consultation with public health officials as necessary, I, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, pursuant to the authority vested in me under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, do hereby renew, effective July 15, 2022, the January 31, 2020, determination by former Secretary Alex M. Azar II, that he previously renewed on April 21, 2020, July 23, 2020, October 2, 2020, and January 7, 2021, and that I renewed on April 15, 2021, July 19, 2021, October 15, 2021, January 14, 2022, and April 12, 2022, that a public health emergency exists and has existed since January 27, 2020, nationwide.
President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, William A. Dombi, cheered the PHE extension.
“This is very welcome news,” said Dombi. “We hope that CMS and the Congress can reach conclusion on which waivers should be made permanent over the coming months. We have learned a lot about valuable policy reforms during the pandemic, including telehealth and avoidable administrative burdens.”
This latest renewal of the PHE will last for 90 days, at which point it will lapse or be renewed again.
This news is not a surprise, as the Biden administration had hinted that a renewal was coming.
A declaration of a PHE permits, among other things, emergency use authorization of vaccines, the access to funding to address the emergency, and deployment of military trauma care providers.
Renewing the public health emergency declaration ensures health care providers and state and territorial health departments have continued flexibility to respond to the pandemic, helping save lives. These flexibilities support efforts such as rapid patient care during emergencies, including waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for certain requirements under section 1135 of the Social Security Act. Examples of such requirements include preapproval requirements and temporarily reassignment of state, territorial, tribal or local staff who typically are funded by federal grants in order to respond to the emergency.
HHS will provide states and territories with no less than 60 days’ notice prior to the termination of the public health emergency declaration for COVID-19.