October 13, 2022
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must renew the federal public health emergency (PHE) related to COVID-19 every 90 days to maintain certain health care flexibilities and waivers. The PHE has been in place since January 27, 2020, and renewed throughout the pandemic. The latest HHS extension for the PHE is effective through January 11, 2023.
In a letter to the state Governors, the Administration has indicated they will give at least a 60-day notice before the PHE ends. In April, ASHA urged HHS to extend the PHE in a letter to Secretary Xavier Becerra [PDF]. In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (P.L. 117-103) provides a 151-day extension to some flexibilities, once the federal PHE ends. With this PHE renewal and the additional 151-day extension, ASHA expects certain flexibilities will continue at least into the second quarter of 2023, such as continued payment for audiology and speech-language pathology telehealth services provided to Medicare beneficiaries.
With each PHE extension, numerous flexibilities and waivers remain in effect, including Medicare telehealth coverage of audiology and speech-language pathology services and relaxed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements.
Clinicians should be aware that states may have different dates for ending local PHEs. 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. It is important to check with your state and payers to ensure compliance with changing laws, regulations, and coverage guidelines.
ASHA will post updates on the status of the PHE to this page and will advocate for another 90-day extension if circumstances warrant.
ASHA provides information regarding coverage of telepractice services provided by audiologists and SLPs. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.