HHS releases roadmap out of public health emergency

HHS is planning for the federal COVID-19 public health emergency to end on May 11.

On Feb. 9, the agency's secretary, Xavier Becerra, sent a letter to U.S. governors informing them that effective Feb. 11, he is renewing the PHE for 90 days and that it is anticipated to be the last time. 

"Based on current trends regarding COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is planning for this to be the final renewal and for the COVID-19 PHE to end on May 11, 2023," Mr. Becerra wrote. "Rather than 60 days' notice, I am providing 90 days' notice before the COVID-19 PHE ends to give you and your communities ample time to transition."

To help with the transition, HHS also attached a fact sheet to the letter with information on what will be affected with the PHE's end.

HHS told governors that access to COVID-19 vaccines and certain treatments, such as Paxlovid and Lagevrio, generally won't be affected. 

According to the agency, other things that won't be affected include the FDA's emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 products (including tests, vaccines and treatments) and major Medicare telehealth flexibilities. The administration is also working to make certain flexibilities around prescribing opioid use disorder treatments permanent.

HHS said other areas will be affected. 

For instance, certain Medicare and Medicaid waivers and broad flexibilities for healthcare providers will end, and also affected will be the ability of healthcare providers to safely dispense controlled substances via telemedicine without an in-person interaction, the agency said. 

Additionally, HHS said the requirement for private insurance companies to cover COVID-19 tests without cost sharing will end, although "coverage may continue if plans choose to continue to include it. We are encouraging private insurers to continue to provide such coverage going forward."

CMS is expected to provide additional information in the coming days. 

To read the full fact sheet, click here

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