Keep PHE past October, American Hospital Association urges

The COVID-19 public health emergency declaration must continue past October to minimize disruptions to the "increasingly fragile healthcare delivery system," the American Hospital Association wrote in a July 29 letter to HHS. 

In July, HHS extended by 90 days the declaration that has been in place since January 2020. It's now scheduled to end Oct. 13. The hospital group is strongly urging the department to extend the emergency beyond that date. 

The group said that now is not the time to eliminate the flexibility that the public health emergency has provided for hospitals and health systems. Hospitalizations and deaths are rising due to the B.A.5 variant, and there is a "real possibility of additional surges in the fall and winter — along with a possibly difficult flu season." 

Providers are also treating sicker patients with more critical medical needs due to delays in seeking care during the delta and omicron surges, the group wrote.

"Moreover, hospitals continue to be challenged by supply chain disruptions, increasing expenses due to labor, supplies and inflation, changing guidance regarding vaccines and therapeutics, dramatic increases in the demand for mental and behavioral health, and, most importantly, by significant shortages of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists and other health care personnel," the letter stated. 

The American Hospital Association is not the only group pushing for an extension. The Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned or managed hospitals, is urging HHS "in the strongest terms possible" to renew the COVID-19 public health emergency through next year.

 

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