National Public Health Emergency Extended
In mid-October, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for an additional 90 days, until January 16, 2022. The Secretary has the flexibility to extend the public health emergency again or to end it earlier than the current end date. This marks the seventh extension of the emergency, which was originally declared in January 2020.
The extension of public health emergency is important to health plans because it controls when and how health plans need to provide certain types of COVID-19-related benefits. During the public health emergency, plans must cover 100% of the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services. Additionally, while non-grandfathered plans must cover the COVID-19 vaccine without cost-sharing at in-network providers even after the public health emergency ends, they also must fully cover the vaccine from out-of-network providers during the emergency.
The public health emergency declared by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is distinct from the national emergency declared by the President. During the national emergency, certain health plan deadlines—such as COBRA deadlines, special enrollment deadlines, and claims and appeals deadlines—are tolled. The national emergency does not yet have an end date.