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The Biden administration has extended the public health emergency for the 11th time since it was first declared in January 2020.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra issued another 90-day proclamation on Thursday, October 13. His current extension ends on January 11, 2023. A telemedicine exemption granted under a public health emergency expires 151 days after he ends his PHE.
On January 31, 2020, former HHS Secretary Alex Azar made the first declaration as the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning to unfold in the United States. Azar updated his PHE on April 21, 2020, July 23, 2020, October 2, 2020, and he on January 7, 2021.
Becerra continued with these updates on April 15, 2021, July 19, 2021, October 15, 2021, and this year on January 14, April 12, and July 15.
In late January 2020, days before Azar first declared a public health emergency, a total of five cases were reported in the United States.
Why this matters
The extension was expected as political commentators speculated that the Biden administration would keep the PHE through the midterm elections and the end of the year.
HHS also promised to notify providers 60 days before the public health emergency ended, a deadline that passed in mid-August.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States this month is lower than it was in September, but the daily number of new cases topped 38,000, with 328 deaths each day.
Hospitals have long said that COVID-19 is not over. The pandemic continues to impact them in increasing enrollment, workforce strain, and costs. The American Hospital Association continues to push the federal government for additional Provider Relief Funds to ease the financial burden, and hospitals have secured new funding to support the Delta and Omicron variants. By 2022, half of hospitals are expected to show negative margins, according to Kaufman Hall executives.
According to the CDC, the daily average of new hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is 3,271, and the total number of hospitalizations is now 21,230.
Added to this is the slow acceptance of vaccinations and boosters among Americans. According to the CDC, he’s just over 35% of the number of people over the age of 5 who got their first vaccine. About a third of adults have received boosters targeting her Omicron subspecies, which remains highly contagious even during the fall and winter seasons when people spend more time indoors. maintain.
the bigger trend
PHE allows hospitals to take advantage of exemptions for flexibility such as telehealth and acute hospital care at home. People continue to be enrolled in Medicaid because of the ongoing eligibility required. An estimated 15 million people could lose this coverage when PHE ends.
In August, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a roadmap to the end of the public health emergency, HHS signaled a phased easing to PHE.
Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org