Xavier Becerra headshot

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced Friday that he is renewing the federal public health emergency related to COVID-19. The renewal is effective on Sunday, when the existing one was set to expire.

This is the eighth time that the public health emergency 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. Becerra previously renewed it three times in 2021, on April 15,  July 19 and Oct. 18. Renewals last 90 days.

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 Jan. 5 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.

“With the omicron variant causing the largest surge of COVID-19 cases across the country ever, now is not the time to let crucial supports and flexibilities necessary to combat the virus end,” the groups wrote.

The American Hospital Association was among other groups asking the Biden administration for an extension.