On April 15, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services released a declaration of renewal of the National Public Health Emergency (PHE) which will be in effect for another 90 days, starting April 21st. This declaration renews for the 5th time, those changes that have been made as a result of the initial declaration in January 2020, and subsequent renewals by former Secretary Alex M. Azar II, on April 21, 2020, July 23, 2020, October 2, 2020, and January 7, 2021.
This declaration was released by the new HHS Secretary, Xavier Becerra:
This declaration “officially” extends the PHE and use of waivers for the SNF setting though July 2021. Keep in mind that the “Dear Governors” letter sent to all states by HHS in early 2021 to outline the plan for the PHE duration specifically stated a “60 day notice prior to the PHE termination” would be given by HHS.
“To assure you of our commitment to the ongoing response, we have determined that the PHE will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021, and when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination.”
Read more about the letter HERE.
For now, the major components used from the waivers in the SNF setting, the Qualifying Hospital Stay (QHS) and Benefit Period Waiver (BPW), are still in play.
View the CMS Memo released April 8th that outlines the components being discontinued effective 5/10/21, including:
- The emergency blanket waivers related to notification of Resident Room or Roommate changes, and Transfer and Discharge notification requirements;
- The emergency blanket waiver for certain care planning requirements for residents transferred or discharged for cohorting purposes.
- The emergency blanket waiver of the timeframe requirements for completing and transmitting resident assessment information (Minimum Data Set (MDS).
Continue to keep an eye on the following 2 documents for changes and updates to the current waivers:
- SE20011 – Explains all the SNF changes and has been updated by CMS regularly, with the last update in November 2020
- COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers, last updated 4/8/21
As always, if you have any questions, please send them to our Just Ask Q&A Forum and we will be glad to help you.
In Your Corner,
Dolores Montero, PT, DPT, RAC-CT, RAC-CTA
SNF Therapy & MDS Compliance Team