What the Impending End of the PHE Will Mean to Physicians
By Jarrod Fowler, MHA, FMA Director of Healthcare Policy and Innovation | February 2, 2023

On Jan. 30, President Biden announced that the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) will end on May 11. With this change looming on the horizon, it would be helpful for physicians to familiarize themselves with which flexibilities following the end of the PHE will be permanent, which will remain in place through Dec. 31, 2024, due to the passage of the omnibus bill passed last year, and which will expire immediately following the expiration of the PHE.

According to CMS, the following Medicare changes will be made permanent:

In addition, the following Medicare changes will be temporarily extended through December 31st, 2024:
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)/Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) can serve as a distant site provider for non-behavioral/mental telehealth services.
  • Medicare patients can receive telehealth services authorized in the Calendar Year 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule in their home.
  • There are no geographic restrictions for originating site for non-behavioral/mental telehealth services.
  • Some non-behavioral/mental telehealth services can be delivered using audio-only communication platforms.
  • An in-person visit within six months of an initial behavioral/mental telehealth service, and annually thereafter, is not required.
  • Telehealth services can be provided by a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, or audiologist.

The following exemptions will come to an end immediately following the termination of the PHE:

Additional Considerations:
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights released guidance to help health care providers and health plans bound by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules (HIPAA Rules) understand how they can use remote communication technologies for audio-only telehealth post-COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • More information about this guidance is available on the Legal Considerations page and FAQs on Telehealth and HIPAA during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
  • As a result of the CARES Act, Florida received enhanced funds for keeping Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries continuously enrolled in the program due to the PHE, irrespective of whether they remained eligible for the program. However, this continuous coverage requirement will end effective April 1, 2023.

We’ll seek to share additional information as it becomes available.