The Secretary of Health and Human Services announced a renewal of the nationwide public health emergency (“PHE”) late on Thursday, July 23, 2020. The announcement came just two days before the then-current PHE designation was set to expire, and will extend the PHE for an additional ninety-day period. The PHE declaration, along with the Stafford Act Emergency Declarations, are directed at expanding access to critical resources during the global health crisis and increasing flexibility within the health care system.
The latest renewal of the PHE provides for the continuation of a number of significant regulatory changes and payment policies enacted throughout the course of the pandemic. This includes, for example, the increased Medicaid matching rates, the requirement that insurers cover COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing, and the 20% add-on payment for services provided to coronavirus patients under Medicare. Further, the renewal permits the continuation of the waivers in connection with telehealth visits, which have increased more than 8,000% nationwide over the past year.