Here’s What it Does & Why It’s Important
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Becerra just extended the federal public health emergency for another 90 days [See renewal declaration here], bringing the new expiration date to mid-July. It’s likely that the federal public health emergency will end at that time.
Many policy changes are tied to the federal public health emergency like flexibilities to waive or modify certain requirements in a range of areas, including in the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP (KidsCare) programs, mandates for private health insurance, authorization of medical countermeasures, telehealth, providing liability immunity to providers who administer services, and authorizing the FDA to do emergency use authorizations, among other things:
The public health emergency was initially declared by HHS Secretary Azar in late January 2020 under Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act. A PHE lasts for 90 days and must be renewed to continue. It has been renewed several times, most recently today. The new expiration date is July 16, 2022.
The Kaiser Family Foundation out together this good summary of what changes are coming when the federal declaration ends: What Happens When COVID-19 Emergency Declarations End? Implications for Coverage, Costs, and Access
Here are the sub-categories:
- Coverage, costs, and payment for COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines
- Medicaid (AHCCCS) coverage and federal match rates
- Other Medicaid (AHCCCS) and CHIP (KidsCare) flexibilities
- Other Medicare payment and coverage flexibilities
- Other private insurance coverage flexibilities
- Access to medical countermeasures (vaccines, tests, and treatments) through FDA emergency use authorization (EUA)
- Liability immunity to administer medical countermeasures
The thing I’m most immediately concerned about is that once the federal emergency ends on July 16, AHCCCS will begin its redetermination processes (redetermination has been suspended during the federal PH emergency since AHCCCS accepted the 6.2% enhancement in the federal share of Medicaid in AZ). AHCCCS estimates that as many as 500,000 members have moved in the last 2 years and didn’t update their address.
Once the federal emergency ends, they’ll send out notices to members and those that don’t reply in 10 days will get kicked off (at least I think it’s 10 days). If the letter goes to their old address they’ll obviously get kicked off.
There needs to be a full-court-press by AHCCCS, their contracted Managed Care Organizations, nonprofits and others to get the word out between now and July to make sure folks that have moved in the last year update their addresses at www.healthearizonaplus.gov or 1-855-432-7587.