nurse holding hand of older adult male
Xavier Becerra headshot
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to extend the public health emergency before it expires in mid-July, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. 

“Should this [extension] come to pass, it could be good news for older adults and their families in terms of access to aging services care,” a spokesperson for LeadingAge told the McKnight’s Business Daily Tuesday.

It would be the 10th time the public health emergency has been extended since it began Jan. 31, 2020, when COVID-19 was only starting its deadly spread around the country. The most recent renewal came April 16, and long-term care providers greeted it with cheers.

The same response is expected for a further extension, since the designation delivers providers funding and operational assistance that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Extensions are granted for 90 days at a time. A new declaration is expected to stretch the public health emergency beyond July, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, the outlet reported. 

The Biden administration has not commented publicly on the report. HHS did not respond to McKnight’s request for comment Tuesday.

Some members of Congress have campaigned to get the public health emergency rolled back, which has set some providers on edge. 

Earlier this month, 16 national organizations, including the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, asking the agency for an extension. The organizations requested an extension “until it is clear that the global pandemic has receded” and that the provisions afforded by it no longer are necessary. 

“The numerous flexibilities provided under the PHE have allowed for regulatory waivers and flexibilities that have proven vital in safely caring for patients and critical in enabling the country’s health care system to quickly adapt and tackle COVID-19 and its variants,” the groups wrote, noting that the public health emergency allows for expedited emergency use authorizations for vaccines, tests and treatments.