October 20, 2022

HHS Again Extends COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Oct. 14 its extension of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), until Jan. 11.

Throughout the COVID-19 PHE, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided flexibilities to hospitals and clinicians. For example, CMS has been using the waiver authority to create flexibilities in the requirements for use of interactive telecommunications systems to furnish telehealth services. These flexibilities are set to expire 151 days after the official end of the PHE.

Additionally, CMS has temporarily modified the regulatory definition of direct supervision, which requires the supervising physician or practitioner to be “immediately available” to furnish assistance and direction during the service, to include “virtual presence” of the supervising clinician through the use of real-time audio and video technology. This flexibility is to return to pre-PHE rules at the end of the calendar year in which the PHE ends — now Dec. 31, 2023.

The secretary of HHS will provide a 60-day notice before the PHE ends.

For more information, please contact Christina Berry, American College of Radiology® Team Lead, Economic Policy.