The public health emergency due to COVID-19 will not end in January, according to published reports.
The most recent renewal of the PHE came in October and is set to expire Jan. 11. The federal government previously vowed to provide a 60-day notice of when it planned to end the PHE, but no notification came on Friday, which was the deadline for such an announcement.
Reuters reported Friday that two Biden administration officials confirmed that the administration will not end the PHE in January. That means that millions of Americans will continue to be able to receive free COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments, the news agency noted, citing the possibility of a surge of cases this winter as well as a need for more time for a transition out of the PHE as reasons for another extension. The Wall Street Journal and CNBC were among other media outlets reporting the news.
Earlier this month, American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra asking that the PHE be extended past Jan. 11 “so that long-term and post-acute care providers can continue to offer the most efficient and effective care possible and so our nation’s most vulnerable population continues to have access to the long-term care they need through Medicaid.”
AHCA / NCAL also asked for more time to help states prepare for redetermining Medicaid eligibility for millions of beneficiaries when the PHE ends, for which states may not be prepared, the groups noted. Twenty-two states do not have an unwinding PHE plan, and an additional 10 have “cursory” presentations on what their plans will contain when developed, according to AHCA / NCAL, citing information from Georgetown University.
Millions of Medicaid beneficiaries receive long-term services and supports in their homes or in the community, such as in assisted living communities, through Medicaid waiver programs, Parkinson told Becerra.
“We strongly encourage the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services within HHS to work with states on strategies to ensure long-term care populations are made a priority,” he wrote.
The PHE related to COVID-19 has been extended 11 times in 90-day increments since it began Jan. 31, 2020. Previous HHS Secretary Alex Azar initiated it and then renewed it three times in 2020 — on April 21, July 23 and Oct. 2 — as well as on Jan. 7, 2021. Becerra previously renewed it three times in 2021 — on April 15, July 19 and Oct. 15, 2021 — and four times in 2022 — on Jan. 14, April 12, July 15 and Oct. 13.
A 90-day extension occurring in January would mean that the PHE would last until mid-April unless it is renewed again.