The AAMC and other hospital and health system organizations sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on March 28 urging him to renew the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) which is scheduled to expire on April 16.
The letter emphasized that while hospitalizations and infections related to COVID-19 are decreasing, “hospitals and health systems are still dealing with COVID-19 patients and deaths on a daily basis.” Additionally, the letter noted that hospitals continue to face challenges related to “workforce shortages and staff burnout, continuing disruptions in the supply chain leading to shortages of supplies and a need for further clinical guidance regarding the symptoms of and best course of treatment for long COVID-19 patients.”
Also highlighted were the critical waivers and flexibilities dependent on the PHE that have allowed hospitals to continue to provide care to their patients. Those include waivers of “conditions of participation; staff licensure requirements for practicing in other states; limitations from liability for certain providers; sanctions under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act for direction or relocation of an individual; important telehealth waivers; and deadlines and time tables for performance of required activities, such as quality reporting.” The letter noted that the 6.2% increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage for state Medicaid programs as well as the current continuous coverage requirement established by the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (P.L. 116-127) are also tied to the PHE.
“We request you act to renew the PHE so that hospitals and health systems are able to continue providing the highest levels of care for our communities,” the letter concluded.