The Department of Health and Human Services has extended the public health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary of Health and Human Services originally declared the public health emergency effective on January 27, 2020. Public health emergencies remain effective for 90 days or until the Secretary determines that the emergency no longer exists, whichever occurs first. The Secretary may also renew the determination for additional 90-day periods. This public emergency has been extended twice, first in April to July 25, 2020, and again recently until October 23. 2020.
Health plans should keep a watchful eye on the public health emergency, as health plans and insurers are only required to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services without cost-sharing during the public health emergency. The public health emergency is distinct from the national emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic declared by President Trump effective on March 1, 2020. The national emergency continues until the President rescinds the emergency, and there is no set date for its expiration. During the national emergency, many important health plan deadlines, such as claims and appeals deadlines and COBRA deadlines, are tolled.