Xavier Becerra headshot

The federal public health emergency related to COVID-19 is being renewed effective Saturday, when the existing one was set to expire, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.

This is the ninth time that the PHE related to COVID-19 has been extended 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. Current Secretary Xavier Becerra previously renewed it three times in 2021 — on April 15, July 19 and Oct. 15 — and in 2022 effective Jan. 14 and April 16. Renewals last 90 days, meaning the latest extension would last through mid-July.

Under the extension, regulatory and funding changes due to the pandemic will continue.

The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living had sent a letter to Becerra on March 22 calling for the action and for the related Section 1135 and Section 1812(f) waivers, enhanced Medicaid FMAP to states, and state Medicaid policy flexibilities, such as the waiver for Medicaid redeterminations, to be maintained.

“The PHE ensures our healthcare system, including long-term care, has the policies and resources it needs to address this ongoing pandemic. Now is not the time to let crucial supports and flexibilities necessary to combat the virus end,” AHCA / NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson wrote.

AHCA / NCAL encouraged Becerra to continue extending the PHE through the end of 2022.

“This pandemic is far from over,” Parkinson said.