Public Health Emergency extended through October

The nation’s Public Health Emergency has been extended through October, with COVID-19 waivers and flexibilities remaining intact for healthcare providers for another 90 days.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra signed the extension Friday, July 15, continuing an unbroken string of extensions since the PHE was first declared in January, 2020.

The extension was not unexpected, as officials have previously said 60-day notice will be provided prior to the end of the PHE and subsequent revocation of flexibilities and waivers.

SimiTree compliance experts recommend home health and hospice agencies, physician practices, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and others operating behavioral health programs stay abreast of federal and state waivers and requirements, making certain to incorporate timelines into the organization Emergency/Pandemic Planning and COVID-19 Response documentation to ensure a clear relationship between the waivers/requirements, staff training and evidence of documentation.

Medicaid changes ahead

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has quietly been preparing behind the scenes for the eventual end of the PHE, providing guidance and resources in preparation for changes ahead, aimed in particular at providers who receive Medicaid reimbursement.

The expiration of the continuous coverage requirement authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will create what CMS describes as the single largest health coverage transition event since the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act.

As a condition of receiving a temporary 6.2 percentage point Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increase under the FFCRA, states have been required to maintain enrollment of nearly all Medicaid enrollees. When the continuous coverage requirement expires, states will have up to 12 months to return to normal eligibility and enrollment operations.

Additionally, many other temporary authorities adopted by states during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), including Section 1135 waivers and disaster relief state plan amendments (SPAs), will expire at the end of the PHE, and states will need to plan for a return to regular operations across their programs.

In March, CMS launched a new web page providing tools to help partners plan and coordinate the unwinding process. CMS said it will continue to update the Unwinding homepage as new resources and tools are released.

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