Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra has extended the Covid-19 public health emergency for another 90 days until what would be a April 11 expiration date.
This means that U.S. healthcare and the HME industry, in specific, will continue operating under policy relaxations and different reimbursement guidelines. For the HME industry, that includes:
- The 75/25 blended rate in non-rural/non-competitive bidding areas.
- NCD/LCD flexibility allowing expanded use of home-based respiratory products/therapy, as well as infusion and anticoagulation devices.
- Waiver of face-to-face requirements for many products, which allows the use of telehealth for items that are not included in the waiver, such as power mobility devices.
- A 6.2 percent increase in Medicaid FMAP match (this will remain in effect through the end of the quarter in which the PHE expires).
- State Medicaid waivers and flexibilities tied to the PHE (states can, however, end flexibilities they have granted at their discretion).
- TRICARE reimbursement increases that are tied to the Medicare rate relief.
There was much discussion as to whether or not the last extension, made in October, would be the final extension for the PHE, given that much of the country has transitioned out of lockdown some time ago.
However, in a May 10, 2022 letter to U.S. governors, Becerra reaffirmed HHS’s commitment to providing at least 60 days advance notice before ending the PHE. Based on that information, HHS would have given that advanced notice in mid-November, and clearly it did not.
Now, industry stakeholders will watch for any kind of advance notice on Feb. 11, the 60-day point before April 12.