Newest PHE renewal marks entry into third year of pandemic
For the eighth time since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a national public health emergency (PHE), the secretary of Health and Human Services has extended the declaration for another 90 days, effective January 16.
The first PHE determination, effective January 31, 2020, was declared by former Secretary Alex M. Azar II and extended four times. This makes the fourth extension authorized by Secretary Xavier Becerra.
The PHE, among other things, allows for certain waivers of regulatory requirements to allow hospitals and other healthcare providers to meet the continuing demands of the rolling patient surge brought on by the various evolutions of the coronavirus first identified in late 2019.
The list of emergency blanket 1135 waivers allowed under the PHE was last updated in November, and can be found here.
CMS and accrediting organizations have said that patient safety regulations waived under the 1135 blanket will not be enforced until the national PHE is lifted and that hospitals will have up to 60 days notice to come back into compliance.
Consultants and other accreditation experts have recommended moving toward compliance anyway because of the time it could take to make repairs, find parts, conduct maintenance and arrange the required inspections to meet CMS Conditions of Participation.