Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) President and CEO Chip Kahn sent a letter Wednesday evening to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra thanking him for his leadership during the pandemic and urging him to extend the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) beyond its current expiration date in October 2022.
“While we all long for the day when we can declare the emergency over, that day is not yet in sight for America’s hospitals. So, we urge you in the strongest terms possible not just to renew the current PHE (which is set to expire in October) for an additional 90-day period, but to send a clear signal that an additional 90-day extension may be necessary. This is critical to prevent unintended consequences to our health care system that would result from seeking shortcuts to a smooth and responsible transition out of the sustained COVID-19 crisis,” states the letter.
The letter also cites rising COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations as a critical reason the PHE extension past October is necessary. With new variants emerging and the administration of new vaccines unachievable until the fall, extension of the PHE will enable vaccination to achieve critical mass.
“It would be nothing short of tragic for hospitals and the millions of Americans…if the Administration were to withdraw needed support through a premature termination of the PHE,” says the letter.
The letter also highlights several crucial health care coverage and hospital payment policies and waivers that will end once the PHE expires.
“There is no understating how vital these policies are, and why the PHE matters,” the letter concludes. “Indeed, the PHE has already served as a bridge to CMS’ efforts, which we strongly endorse, to transform certain temporary waivers into permanent Medicare policy, some of which may require Congressional action to avoid any disruptions.”
Click here to review the complete letter.