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HHS Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Determination Affecting Group Health Plans



Renewal of Determination that a Public Health Emergency Exists (Oct. 2, 2020)

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HHS has renewed its determination that a public health emergency exists nationwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, effective October 23, 2020. The original determination, which declared that a public health emergency existed as of January 27, 2020, was previously renewed in April and July. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (see our Checkpoint article) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (see our Checkpoint article) require group health plans to cover—without cost-sharing, preauthorization, or other medical management requirements—certain COVID-19-related diagnostic and preventive health services. The requirements are effective from March 18, 2020, for the duration of this HHS-declared public health emergency (see our Checkpoint article).

EBIA Comment: Generally, a public health emergency declaration lasts for 90 days or until HHS declares that the public health emergency no longer exists, whichever occurs first. HHS may extend the public health emergency declaration for subsequent 90-day periods for as long as the public health emergency continues to exist. It is important to note that, while certain COVID-19-related requirements are tied to the duration of the HHS-declared public health emergency, other requirements are subject to different deadlines (see our Checkpoint Question of the Week). For more information, see EBIA’s Group Health Plan Mandates manual at Section XVI.C (“Mandated Coverage of Diagnostic and Preventive Services”).

Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.

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