The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the authority to declare a national public health emergency (PHE). For ongoing PHEs, the Secretary must reissue a declaration at least once every 90 days.
The HHS Secretary determined a PHE has been in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic since Jan. 31, 2020. Under a declared PHE, the Department has additional authority and discretion to waive certain program requirements in order to respond to the identified emergency. Under the COVID-19 PHE, HHS and supporting agencies have issued numerous flexibilities and waivers to support the continued access to critical healthcare services throughout the pandemic. However, following the expiration of the declared COVID-19 PHE, many of these flexibilities will expire.
On Jan. 30, 2023, the Biden Administration announced its plans to end the COVID-19 PHE on May 11, 2023. This decision comes after multiple renewals over the past three years. The end of the PHE will have ramifications for a variety of flexibilities afforded by the pandemic over the last several years, such as HIPAA penalty waivers, controlled substance prescription waivers, and COVID-19 testing and treatment coverage.