HHS Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

  • by AGD Washington Advocacy Representative
  • Aug 4, 2022
On July 15th, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra renewed the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) citing an uptick in coronavirus infections and deaths caused by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant. By federal law, PHE declarations last for 90 days or until an emergency subsides, but the Biden administration has promised to provide states with 60 days notice before ending an emergency declaration. The COVID-19 PHE has been in place since late January 2020 and last renewed on April 12, 2022, amid calls from Republicans to end the PHE as COVID-19 becomes endemic.

During a PHE, the government can tap into reserved funds and utilize unique resources, procedures, and powers to respond to a health emergency. The Food and Drug Administration can expedite emergency use authorizations for vaccines, tests, and treatments; the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control gains access to the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund; and the government is able to waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and HIPAA requirements among other actions.

Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD continues to monitor developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and PHE declarations and its impact on general dentistry. Once the PHE expires, up to 15 million Americans could lose coverage of Medicaid and CHIP services, including dental benefits, as states return to conducting non-emergency eligibility enrollments.