Home Health Providers, Staff in For ‘Rude Awakening’ Following Public Health Emergency Expiration

Though it sometimes may not feel like it, the expiration of the public health emergency (PHE) will, one day, come.

And when it does, that will have ramifications on home health providers specifically, and home-based care more generally. With the declaration came a handful of waivers and flexibilities meant to alleviate the harsh impacts of the pandemic for home health providers.

The Biden Administration extended the PHE for another three months on Friday, but providers will need to prepare for the day it will eventually come to an end. 

The PHE was originally declared in March of 2020, retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020. This past April, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) extended the emergency status for 90 additional days, to July 15.

Concerns around waivers and flexibilities

Along with the PHE declaration came a number of regulatory waivers and flexibilities meant to streamline health care processes and ease the overall burden of the pandemic for providers.

One of these waivers made it possible for any of the disciplines — nursing, physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), or speech language pathologists — to conduct home health admissions based on the needs of the patient.

If the PHE ends, this waiver is not expected to become permanent, according to Cindy Krafft, the co-owner and co-founder of the consulting firm Kornetti & Krafft Health Care Solutions.

“It has deeper regulatory issues and stuff that would have to be dealt with, but it is still allowable in the waiver situation,” she told Home Health Care News. “The reason I think it’s going to be a challenge is the current staffing situation in home health. We know that several agencies are at crisis levels and the ability to move admissions to therapy and take some of that off of nursing, when appropriate, has become routine.”...

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