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Public Health Emergency Extended Once Again – but End is Near

Despite declaring the pandemic was “over,” the federal government extended the public health emergency (PHE) for another 90 days last month. The PHE, which now expires on January 11, 2023, has been in place since early 2020. Now in its third year, it’s difficult to remember what flexibilities it affords. As experts predict this may be the final renewal, it’s an opportune time to review the relevant waivers that will expire with the emergency declaration.

When the PHE concludes, the following changes may be made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for Medicare beneficiaries: 

  • Health care professionals – physical therapists, speech language pathologists, etc. – who are not physicians or advanced practice providers will no longer be able to provide services via telemedicine.
  • Audio-only services will be corralled, instead requiring audio and video equipment that permits a two-way, real-time interaction between the patient and the provider unless an exception is granted for the particular service.
  • Provider enrollment will roll back to pre-pandemic procedures; there will be no expedited processing. Practitioners will be required to resume reporting their home address on the Medicare enrollment. States will again oversee where a provider can practice.
  • Patients outside of rural areas and patients in their homes will no longer be eligible for telemedicine services. Prior to the pandemic, Medicare covered telemedicine when it was in a physician office or hospital setting, and it is expected that this will again be the case.

These changes will be set in stone 151 days after the conclusion of the PHE, allowing several months to transition back to the pre-pandemic protocols. 

The government is accepting applications to waive these impending changes if dictated by your situation (or that of your patient[s]). Send your request or questions to If you are serving a home-bound patient via telemedicine, for example, consider applying for an exemption.

For more information about the conclusion of the PHE, see this link.

About The Author

Elizabeth Woodcock is the founder and principal of Woodcock & Associates. She has focused on medical practice operations and revenue cycle management for more than 25 years. She has led educational sessions for a multitude of national professional associations and specialty societies, and consulted for clients as diverse as a solo orthopaedic surgeon in rural Georgia to the Mayo Clinic. She is author or co-author of 17 best-selling practice management books, to include Mastering Patient Flow and The Physician Billing Process: Avoiding Potholes in the Road to Getting Paid. Elizabeth is a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a Certified Professional Coder. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, she completed a Master of Business Administration in healthcare management from The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a doctoral student at the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University.

The contents of The Sentinel are intended for educational/informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice, as specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and/or change over time.

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