Healthcare worker standing in front of a state capitol building

Although healthcare providers are applauding the extension of the COVID-19 public health emergency to next spring, some industry groups are pushing Congress to extend some PHE flexibilities even longer.

Moving Health Home, an alliance to advance home-based care, wants lawmakers to extend the Acute Hospital Care at Home program and telehealth waivers for at least another two years.

“By temporarily extending the AHCAH program, acute care at home programs will have the predictability they need to maintain patient access and it will allow for additional data collection to inform policymakers on important considerations to permanently expand access to home-based care,” a spokesman for Moving Health Home told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse in a statement.   

The PHE was set to expire in mid-January. However, last Friday the Department of Health and Human Services had not given states the 60-day notice of expiration as it had promised, according to published reports. Reuters reported last Friday that two Biden administration officials confirmed that the PHE would continue until April, allowing waivers for telehealth and hospital-at-home to remain in place through the winter. 

Moving Health Home added that seniors should not be cut off from vital care and urged Congress to continue to expand hospital-at-home along with telehealth flexibilities in ways that innovate both delivery models.

Both telehealth and hospital-at-home expanded significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic through federal waiver programs. A recent report estimated that telehealth now accounts for 10% of outpatient visits compared to approximately 1% before the pandemic. More than 250 hospitals in 37 states have established hospital-at-home programs. 

Recently, academics from New York University penned a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, asking it to adopt a demonstration model to extend the Acute Care at Home waiver program and make it more accessible beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.