On January 16, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced the current COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) has been extended until April 16, 2022. The PHE was originally set to expire on January 16, 2022. The extension of the PHE means that the following regulatory flexibilities, among others, will be preserved:
- Expanded Coverage of Telehealth Services: The extension allows: (1) HIPAA-covered health care providers to continue to provide telehealth services to patients using remote communication technologies, even if the application does not fully comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rules; (2) originating site and geographic requirements to remain lifted, enabling providers to deliver care to patients in different states and outside of designated rural areas; (3) payment for telehealth appointments to be billed as if they were provided in person; and (4) Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to continue to serve as distant telehealth sites to allow services to be provided to patients in their homes.
- Enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) & Extension of Continuous Eligibility Requirement under Medicaid: The extension allows the 6.2 percentage-point FMAP increase originally legislated under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act to remain in effect. As condition for receipt of the increased FMAP, states must ensure continuous enrollment throughout the federal pandemic public health emergency period for people enrolled in Medicaid on or after March 18, 2020. As a result of the extension, the continuous eligibility requirement will also remain in effect until April 16, 2022.
The Administration has committed to providing a 60-day notice before allowing the PHE to expire to allow providers to adjust to the termination in regulatory flexibilities that will occur. At this point, HHS is expected to issue extensions at least until mid-2022.
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