The Secretary of Health and Human Services has declared and extended a public health emergency (PHE) related to the COVID-19 pandemic since January 27, 2020.
- The secretary must issue a PHE renewal every 90 days
- Many waivers and policy implementation dates are tied to the expiration of the COVID-19 PHE.
- HHS has reiterated its intent to provide states with a 60-day notice prior to the expiration of the PHE
Among the important waivers and provisions include those related to Telehealth.
Many of these flexibilities will be extended for an additional 151 days following the conclusion of the PHE. These include:
- Originating site and geographic location: Patients can continue to be treated via telehealth anywhere, including their homes
- Qualifying providers: Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and audiologists can furnish distant site telehealth services
- Audio-only services: CMS must continue covering and reimbursing these services
- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs): FQHCs and RHCs can be distant sites and be reimbursed
- Mental health: Delays implementation of the in-person visit requirement for mental telehealth visits for 152 days after the PHE ends