What goes — and what doesn't — with the end of the public health emergency
The planned end of the COVID public health emergency on May 11 could cause major disruptions for some health care providers while barely creating a ripple in other segments of the industry — at least for now.
Why it matters: Congress and the executive branch have already decided the fate of some key regulatory flexibilities that are tied to the emergency declaration.
What the end of the emergency affects: The ending of the PHE will shift control of pricing and coverage of COVID-19 testing and vaccines away from the government and over to the commercial market, analysts from Cowen and Company wrote in a research note.
- The end of the PHE will end flexibility that allows clinicians registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances to patients they haven't seen in-person as long as they've conducted a telehealth visit and other conditions are met, per KFF.
- Waivers for nursing homes, home care and community-based services could go away if Congress doesn't step in, per the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.
- One such allowance waives a requirement for a three-day inpatient stay prior to a Medicare-covered stay in a skilled nursing facility.
What the end of the emergency doesn't do: Lawmakers already agreed on a timeline to begin unwinding Medicaid continuous coverage protection April 1, a process that could lead to millions becoming uninsured.
- The expiration of the emergency also won't impact most telehealth flexibilities. Those — as well as the Acute Care Hospital at Home program — were extended through Dec. 31, 2024 in the omnibus package passed in December.
- It also doesn't impact FDA's ability to authorize devices, tests, treatments or vaccines for emergency use, and existing emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for products will remain in effect, the agency said.
- And it doesn't impact authorities that were extended by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness, or PREP Act, including pharmacist vaccination, testing and treatment authorities, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists points out. Those do not expire until the end of 2024.