The HHS Secretary’s public health emergency (PHE) declaration is set to expire on July 25, 2020. While the Secretary may choose to renew the PHE for an additional 90-day period, as was done in April, it is unclear at this point whether the Secretary will do so. Please be aware that the expiration of the HHS public health emergency has several critical implications for healthcare entities, outlined below.
Please also be aware that the HHS public health emergency is distinct from the national emergency declared by the President.
PHE Expiration Critical Impacts:
Provider Relief Fund: Based on HHS guidance, it appears that lost revenues and healthcare-related expenses attributable to coronavirus incurred by healthcare providers after the expiration of the PHE may not be eligible for reimbursement from Provider Relief Funds. HHS has stated that if providers have funds leftover “at the conclusion of the pandemic,” those leftover funds will need to be returned to HHS. However, the timeline for returning funds is currently unclear.
COVID-19 Inpatient Add-On Payment: As part of the CARES Act, HHS increased the reimbursement for inpatient COVID-19 treatment by 20% (determined based on MS-DRGs). This additional payment will expire with the expiration of the PHE.
FMAP Boost: The FFCRA increased the Federal Medicaid match (FMAP) by 6.2%. This increase will also expire with the PHE.
Telehealth: CMS significantly increased flexibilities around telehealth for the duration of the PHE, including increasing reimbursement, relaxing geographic site restrictions, and broadening both the types of services and providers eligible for telehealth reimbursement. Many of these regulatory changes will expire (if not renewed) with the termination of the PHE.
**Important Note for Home Health Agencies: On June 25, CMS issued a proposed rule that proposes making “permanent the regulatory changes related to telecommunications technologies in providing care under the Medicare home health benefit beyond the expiration of the PHE.” More information on the proposed rule is available here.
Other CMS Waivers: As noted in the CMS Interim Final Rule, which offers significant flexibilities across a broad range of programs and provider types, “all final provisions in this [Interim Final Rule] are only for the duration of the PHE for the COVID-19 pandemic, unless otherwise indicated.” As such, providers should carefully examine the flexibilities of which they are taking advantage to understand those that may be expiring with the PHE.
As you continue to meet the evolving challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Citrin Cooperman Healthcare Practice team.
|Aaron Cohen, JD
Principal, Healthcare Practice Co-Leader
|John Bryan, CPA, CGMA
Partner, Healthcare Practice Co-Leader