July 23, 2020 | By Sean Weiss, CHC, CEMA, CMCO, CPMA, CPC-P, CMPE, CPC
As you all know the Public Health Emergency (PHE) is due to expire on Saturday the 25th of July unless the Secretary of HHS issues a declaration extending the PHE under what is referred to as the Public Health Services (PHS) Act. On June 30th, 2020 HHS spokesman Michael Caputo issued a tweet that HHS intends to extend the COVID-19 PHE prior to expiration on the 25th. Many news organizations and bloggers issued statements that “HHS Extends COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” however, that is not the case and there has been no formal declaration for the extension. This is why you have to be careful with where and from who you receive your information. As of the issuance of this email, there has been no extension issued but the day is still young!
Now, do I believe the declaration will be issued, yes, given the state of COVID-19 across the country and the fact that it is my belief based on all the scientific data I have reviewed and members of Governor’s Task Force that I engage with that the virus will continue into the fall and the colder months since that is when viruses flourish. Thus, a 90-day extension is inevitable given Trump’s comments the other day regarding the conundrum the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to create. I believe that beyond the next issued extension another will likely be issued to carry us into the spring of 2021. I know this is not the news any of us want, since we all want to reclaim our previous lives and get back to some sense of normalcy… whatever that is!
So, what does an extension of the PHE mean and what pieces will have the greatest impact on our industry? To understand what it is and how we are impacted by it we can look at CMS’ issuance of the PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARATION QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (I have underlined those I believe impact the vast majority of you).
As you can see, without the issuance of a PHE extension there is a lot to be lost given the fact the COVID-19 virus is still very active and the odds of it getting worse before it gets better exists.