Published August 19, 2022

The End Is Coming: CMS Directs Providers to “Prepare to Return to Normal”

The most recent renewal of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) expires October 13, 2022. In an August 18, 2022, blog post titled “Creating a Road Map for the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) leadership reiterates its commitment “to giving states and the health care community writ large 60 days’ notice before ending the PHE.” Thus, the PHE will extend beyond October–but for how much longer remains unknown.

With the end of the PHE comes the end of the numerous regulatory flexibilities CMS afforded providers to expand access to care and ease administrative burden during the pandemic. In the blog post, CMS “encourages health care providers to prepare for the end of these flexibilities as soon as possible and to begin moving forward to reestablishing previous health and safety standards and billing practices.”

While many hoped these flexibilities would become permanent, CMS believes it is time to return to pre-pandemic standards: “We commend the providers across the health care system that worked diligently to ensure that health and safety standards remained in place during the height of the pandemic. Yet, even with their valiant efforts, we saw patient, resident, and client safety decline as health systems were, at times, stretched to their limits, and the continued flexibilities could contribute to further decline.”

To assist providers, CMS has released a roadmap for the eventual end of PHE waivers and flexibilities. CMS also has published a series of fact sheets for specific provider types identifying applicable waivers and flexibilities:   

  • Physicians and Other Clinicians
  • Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals, Ambulatory Surgery Centers, and Community Mental Health Centers
  • Teaching Hospitals, Teaching Physicians, and Medical Residents
  • Long-Term Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities and/or Nursing Facilities)
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospice
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Long-Term Care Hospitals & Extended Neoplastic Disease Care Hospitals
  • Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Laboratories
  • Medicare Shared Savings Program
  • Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies
  • Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans
  • Ambulances
  • End-Stage Renal Disease Facilities
  • Participants in the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program

While the date on which the PHE will end remains unknown, there is no question CMS believes providers should take action now: “With this information in hand, we expect that the health care system can begin taking prudent action to prepare to return to normal operations and to wind down those flexibilities that are no longer critical in nature.” 

If you would like assistance with developing and executing your “return to normal” plan, or any matter involving compliance, valuation, or strategy and transactions, one of our executive contacts would be happy to assist. You may email them below, or call (800) 270-9629. 

Executive Contacts

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