Federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 Expiration: CMS Waivers & Flexibilities Impacts
Based on COVID-19 trends, the Department of Health and Human Services is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 (PHE) to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023. During the PHE, emergency declarations, legislative actions by Congress, and regulatory actions across government, including by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), allowed for changes to many aspects of healthcare delivery. Healthcare providers received increased flexibility, allowing for the streamlining of care delivery and access. While some changes will be permanent or extended due to congressional action, some waivers and flexibilities will expire. There are flexibilities and actions that will NOT be affected during the transition from the current phase. Click through below to learn more about how this impacts the following areas:
Access to Telehealth Services
Medicare and Telehealth
During the PHE, individuals with Medicare had broad access to telehealth services, including in their homes, without geographic or location limits. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, of 2023, extended many telehealth flexibilities through December 31, 2024, such as:
- People with Medicare can access telehealth services in any geographic area in the United States, rather than only those in rural areas.
- People with Medicare can stay in their homes for telehealth visits that Medicare pays for rather than traveling to a healthcare facility.
- Certain telehealth visits can be delivered audio-only (such as a telephone) if someone is unable to use both audio and video, such as a smartphone or computer.
COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments
Vaccines: People with Medicare coverage will continue to have access to COVID-19 vaccinations without cost sharing after the end of the PHE.
Testing: People with traditional Medicare can continue to receive COVID-19 PCR and antigen tests with no cost sharing when the test is ordered by a physician or certain other healthcare providers, such as physician assistants and certain registered nurses, and performed by a laboratory. By law, Medicare does not generally cover over-the-counter services and tests.
Treatments: There is no change in Medicare coverage of treatments for those exposed to COVID-19 once the PHE ends, and in cases where cost sharing and deductibles apply now, they will continue to apply.
For more information and a complete list of what changes and does not change, please reference the Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Transition Roadmap.