AHA, AMA ask HHS for COVID-19 emergency extension

Leading healthcare organizations want to federal government to maintain its pandemic posture for at least a few more months, they wrote in a letter delivered to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra Tuesday.

The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and fourteen other healthcare organizations urge Becerra to extend the department’s COVID-19 public health emergency until the global outbreak has subsided.

The public health emergency designation allowed federal agencies to relax numerous policies for healthcare providers and state governments, including permitting continuous Medicaid enrollment and additional Medicare reimbursement for treating COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

The emergency declaration, which can be extended in 90-day increments, is currently set to expire July 15. President Joe Biden’s administration has vowed to offer 60 days’ notice before revoking the public health emergency. Based on that, the administration could announce the impending end of the emergency soon: Next Monday is 60 days before July 15.

Republican lawmakers have pressured the administration to end the designation, and regulators have already rolled back some emergency flexibilities. But COVID-19 cases are rising again in parts of the country. The emergency designation should stay in place until there is a longer period of stability, the healthcare groups wrote.

“We understand Americans are frustrated with the pandemic and the related ongoing public health measures resulting from it. Healthcare providers and others across the country’s healthcare infrastructure are exhausted as well. We have learned, however, that COVID-19 and its variants take full advantage. when we let our guard down, “the letter says.

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