Hospitals urge HHS to renew public health emergency

Hospitals are calling for a renewal of COVID-19 as a public health emergency.

In a March 28 letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, national healthcare associations cited ongoing concerns about vulnerable populations, including children younger than 5 and the immunocompromised, who cannot be vaccinated, as well as the potential for additional surges. The groups also cited challenges hospitals continue to face.

"Our members 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," the letter said. "In addition, our hospitals and health systems are increasingly caring for patients with a variety of health needs for which care had to be delayed due to the pandemic."

The letter urged HHS to renew the COVID-19 public health emergency because the groups said it provides flexibility and resources to hospitals to respond to COVID-19, while best serving patients. The current public health emergency is set to expire April 15. 

The letter is signed by America's Essential Hospitals; the American Hospital Association; the Association of American Medical Colleges; the Catholic Health Association of the United States; the Children's Hospital Association; the Federation of American Hospitals; the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare; Premier healthcare alliance; and Vizient.

In February, more than 70 House Republican lawmakers signed a letter calling for an end to the public health emergency.

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