HHS Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Proclamation
February 02, 2021
On January 7, 2021, HHS announced that the public health emergency proclamation for COVID-19 is renewed for another 90 days, beginning on January 21, 2021 (the date the previous HHS proclamation expired) and extends through April 20, 2021.
The CARES Act and the FFCRA require plans (including self-insured plans) to cover COVID-19 testing without cost-sharing and without pre-authorization. Importantly, that includes diagnostic tests approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA, subject to a developer’s request for FDA emergency use authorization, or developed in and authorized by a state, as well as serological tests (antibody) tests. Those CARES Act/FFCRA requirements are effective from March 18, 2020, and last through the duration of the HHS-declared public health emergency.
Generally, the emergency declaration lasts for 90 days or until HHS declares that the public health emergency no longer exists, whichever occurs first. HHS may extend the public health emergency declaration for subsequent 90-day periods for as long as the public health emergency continues to exist. HHS previously renewed their declaration in April, July and October (which expired on January 21, 2021).
Employers should be aware of the HHS proclamation renewal. While carriers (for fully insured plans) and TPAs (for self-insured plans) will likely handle the administrative aspects of COVID-19 testing and billing, employers will want to understand the coverage requirements in connection with the proclamation extension.