AHA Urges Extension of the Public Health Emergency
By: Emily H. Lineweaver
On January 11, 2022, in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, the American Hospital Association (AHA) pressed the Secretary to renew the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) declaration for at least another 90 days. It is set to expire on January 16, 2022. If the Secretary obliges, the PHE will be extended through mid-April.
In a separate, but similar letter addressed to President Joe Biden, the AHA urged the President to extend the national emergency concerning the COVID-19 pandemic under the National Emergencies Act for another year. It is set to expire on March 1, 2022.
The PHE and the national emergency decelerations are cited by the AHA as making available “flexibilities and resources that allowed – and continue to allow – our members to use the vital tools necessary to combat the pandemic,” and have “proven critical in equipping hospitals and health systems with tools and resources necessary to manage the recent COVID-19 surges and ensure high-quality care in this unprecedented environment. In their absence, the challenges of the pandemic will be exponentially more difficult to overcome.” These letters requesting extensions come as the nation grapples with the new Omicron variant. In both letters, the AHA says that “[m]any states have reported record high COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, with drug and device shortages, as well as employee illness and burnout rising dramatically in recent weeks. The challenges associated with this pandemic will definitely continue beyond Jan. 16, and possibly throughout the remainder of the year.”