February 9, 2023
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 Biden Administration notified Congress that it will end the PHE on May 11, 2023.
However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (P.L. 117-328), extends the authority for audiologists and speech-language pathologists to provide telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries and continues waivers of geographic and originating site restrictions through December 31, 2024. Many other flexibilities associated with Medicaid eligibility and health information privacy and security requirements will now expire on May 11, 2023. ASHA's website provides more information on what to expect at the end of the federal PHE.
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 provides information regarding coverage of telepractice services provided by audiologists and SLPs and what to expect at the end of the federal PHE. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.