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Feds Extend Emergency Declaration to January 2021

The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar, has again extended the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration. The current declaration was set to expire Oct. 23rd and is now extended for an additional 90 days through Jan. 21, 2021.

As a result, the series of blanket Section 1135 waivers authorized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) effective March 1, 2020 is also being extended through the end of the emergency declaration. These include the waiver of the 3-day stay prior hospitalization requirement for skilled nursing facility (SNF) services, as well as a host of other waivers applicable to SNF, home health, and hospice services.

When the President declares a major disaster or an emergency under the Stafford Act or an emergency under the National Emergencies Act, and the HHS Secretary declares a public health emergency?, the Secretary is authorized to take certain actions in addition to his normal authority under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act. He may waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements as needed to ensure to the maximum extent feasible that, in an emergency area during an emergency period, sufficient health care services are available to meet the needs of individuals enrolled in Social Security Act programs and that providers of such services in good faith who are unable to comply with certain statutory requirements are reimbursed and exempted from sanctions for noncompliance other than for fraud or abuse.

Contact: Dan Heim, dheim@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8866