End of PHE Spells Changes for Healthcare

End of PHE Spells Changes for Healthcare

HHS is taking steps toward ensuring a smooth transition out of a 39-month period of uncertainty.

Americans will wake up on Friday, May 12, and go about their lives finally out from under the umbrella of a public health emergency (PHE) for the first time in more than 39 months.

And federal officials say they’re doing everything possible for the new normal to feel, well – normal.

“COVID-19 remains a significant priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and over the next several months, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will work to ensure a smooth transition,” the agency said in a press release issued this week. “During the PHE, CMS has used a combination of emergency authority waivers, regulations, enforcement discretion, and sub-regulatory guidance to ensure easier access to care during the PHE for healthcare providers and their beneficiaries.”

Some of the flexibilities that were created during the pandemic were recently expanded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, agency officials noted. Others have been deemed no longer needed once the PHE expires. CMS noted that it recently made updates to its online Emergencies Page with what it described as useful information for providers – specifically regarding major telehealth and individual waivers.

Provider-specific fact sheets about COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) waivers and flexibilities are available online here: https://www.cms.gov/coronavirus-waivers

CMS COVID-19 Waivers and Flexibilities for Providers fell under the following categories:

  • Physicians and Other Clinicians
  • Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals/CAHs (including Swing Beds, DPUs), ASCs, and CMHCs
  • Teaching Hospitals, Teaching Physicians, and Medical Residents
  • Long-Term Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities and/or Nursing Facilities)
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospice
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Long-Term Care Hospitals & Extended Neoplastic Disease Care Hospitals
  • Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
  • Laboratories
  • Medicare Shared Savings Program
  • Durable Medical Equipment (DME), Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies
  • Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans
  • Ambulances
  • End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Facilities
  • Participants in the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program
  • Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a fact sheet on the PHE expiration earlier this month, noting that nearly 270 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, causing the peak of the Omicron variant surge last January to give way to a 92-percent drop in daily reported cases and approximately 80-percent declines in COVID-related deaths and hospitalizations.

The fact sheet can be viewed in its entirety online here:  https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2023/02/09/fact-sheet-covid-19-public-health-emergency-transition-roadmap.html

“In the coming weeks, CMS will be hosting stakeholder calls and office hours to provide additional information,” the agency added in its press release. “Please continue to visit the CMS Emergencies Page for continuous updates regarding PHE sunsetting guidance as information becomes available to the public.”

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in more than 100 million cases and more than 1.1 million deaths since initial outbreaks spreading across the country in March 2020.


Mark Spivey

Mark Spivey is a national correspondent for RACmonitor.com, ICD10monitor.com, and Auditor Monitor who has been writing and editing material about the federal oversight of American healthcare for more than a decade.

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