April 19, 2021
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the federal public health emergency (PHE) for another 90 days, through July 19, 2021. The PHE, which was set to expire on April 20, 2021, has been in place since January 27, 2020, and must be renewed every 90 days. However, in a letter to state governors [PDF], the Administration signaled that the PHE will likely be continued for the duration of 2021.
With the current extension and expected continuation through 2021, numerous federal flexibilities and waivers will remain in effect, including specified Medicare telehealth coverage of audiology and speech-language pathology services and relaxed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. In addition, many commercial insurers and school districts have extended enhanced telehealth access for the duration of the PHE.
Clinicians should be aware that states may have different dates for ending local states of emergency. This means that temporary state licensing, Medicaid, commercial insurance, and local education agency expansions and flexibilities could end at different times than the federal PHE.
ASHA will monitor the status of the federal PHE and provide updates if the Administration signals a change to the expected continuation through 2021.
ASHA provides extensive information on coverage of telepractice services provided by audiologists and SLPs. Please contact email@example.com for additional information.