For the third time this year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has renewed its determination that a public health emergency exists due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern,” which was ultimately renewed on April 21st and again on July 23rd of this year.
Consequently, the renewal extends the duration of several requirements related to COVID-19, specifically those under the following laws:
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Under these laws, we have seen numerous health insurance carriers take action to ensure members have access to needed care and testing including waving out-of-pocket costs, covering virtual doctor visits, encouraging use of telemedicine, and providing mental and emotional support lines free of charge.
Generally, a declared public health emergency lasts for 90 days or until the HHS declares that it no longer exists. Under today’s circumstances, the requirements remain effective through the duration of the declared public health emergency.
Please note that this declaration of a public health emergency is separate from the COVID-19 National Emergency declared by the President. This impacts the end of the “outbreak period” — beginning March 1, 2020 — for deadlines related to HIPAA special enrollment, COBRA continuation coverage and other employee benefit plan deadlines.
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Trust the Creative Benefits Team to provide timely updates surrounding the state of the pandemic and changes related to healthcare coverage.