The public health emergency was recently extended by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Oct. 13. The extension ensures healthcare organizations are still afforded the flexibilities granted during the early days of the pandemic and avoids the "telehealth cliff," according to Ernst.
A PHE lasts for 90 days, but can be renewed and extended by the HHS secretary. The COVID-19 PHE has leveraged emergency waivers, regulations, enforcement discretion and sub-regulatory guidance to offer more flexibilities to providers and improve access to care.
HHS has previously stated it will provide 60 days' notice before ending the PHE to give providers time to adjust. However, extending the PHE while the pandemic is still ongoing is critical, according to Ernst.