COVID-19 PHE is Renewed Through July 15

By A.J. Plunkett

CMS continues to gradually end some emergency blanket waivers allowed under the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) for some providers, but for now the 1135 waivers remain intact for acute care and critical access hospitals. The current 90-day PHE declaration was renewed and posted online Wednesday, and is effective through July 15.

However, there is a new note recently added atop HHS’ online list of PHE declarations. “On January 22, 2021, Acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran reached out to governors across the country to share details of the public health emergency declaration for COVID-19. Among other things, the Acting Secretary Cochran indicated that HHS will provide states with 60 days notice prior to the termination of the public health emergency declaration for COVID-19,” according to the note highlighted in a blue box.

The note also includes a link to the full text of the letter from Cochran, who was eventually replaced by the current HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The letter notes that the PHE would likely run through the entirety of 2021, “and when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination.”

While hospitals wait for that the promised 60-day notice, other providers are seeing the end to certain waivers.

On April 7, a Quality, Safety and Oversight (QSO) group memo to CMS’ state survey offices stated it will be terminating some blanket waivers for skilled nursing facilities/nursing facilities (SNF/NF), inpatient hospices, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID), and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) facilities that “have developed policies or other practices that we believe mitigates the need for certain waivers.”

Some of the waivers will terminate within 60 days, others in 30 days. All of the applicable waivers are outlined in the memo, and in the continuously updated 45-page list of COVID-19 emergency waivers CMS keeps online. The last update was April 7.

However, that memo, QSO-22-15-NH & NLTC & LSC, also notes in the summary that “applicable waivers will remain in effect for hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAH).”

A.J. Plunkett is editor of Inside Accreditation & Quality, an HCPro publication.