National COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Likely to Remain Through 2021

In a recent letter to state governors, Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Norris Cochran signaled the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’s) commitment to “predictability and stability” in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).


The acting secretary informed governors that HHS’s current PHE declaration, issued under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, “will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021.”

The likely extension of HHS’s PHE declaration through 2021 will keep these important flexibilities in place as states and providers continue to plan for response efforts in 2021, including:

  • Telemedicine waivers to increase care accessibility

  • Certain waivers and modifications to Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule requirements

  • The 6.2 percentage point increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage available to providers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

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