A letter from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra indicates that his agency will be extending the Covid-19 public health emergency beyond its current July 16 expiration date.
HHS extended the PHE for another 90 days in April, but a May 10 letter from Secretary Becerra to U.S. governors reaffirms the agency’s commitment to providing at least 60 days’ advance notice before ending the PHE.
The American Association for Homecare pointed out that this essentially means that HHS will again extend the PHE. Typically those extensions have lasted 90 days.
“If that practice is continued this time around, the PHE would next be extended until mid-October of this year,” a statement from the association noted.
Under the PHE, the HME industry receives several reimbursement and regulatory relaxations:
- 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 PMD.
- 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.