With President Biden’s declaration that “the pandemic is over” just last month, many PALTC professionals grew concerned about the state of the public health emergency that has been in effect since 2020. After all, the end of the PHE would leave thousands of patients without coverage, with practices all over the nation scrambling to pick up the pieces. Fortunately, Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, announced that he would be extending the Public Health Emergency for another 90 days to January 11th, 2023, allowing practices nationwide to continue their efforts against Covid with full support and backup.
But while most might relish victory over this extension, some may not know what it’ll mean for their practices moving forward when the PHE does come to an end. Two major factors that are bound to be affected include:
- Telehealth protection
- Medicaid Recalibrations
In this post, we’ll look at how this newest extension can benefit PALTC professionals in these three very different but equally important fields.
Preserving The Care of Telehealth
As the pandemic raged on, many practices were forced to evolve how they provided care to their patients. This evolution involved the use of telehealth to provide care virtually and reduce outside exposure to the Covid-19 virus. Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, helps practices deliver quality care through remote monitoring to allow providers the opportunity to check on their patients from their homes. But many PALTC professionals are beginning to wonder what will happen to certain telehealth services once the PHE is lifted, especially when it comes to patients protected by Medicare.
For Medicare, any changes in telehealth services would have lasting and dramatic effects as the program has reimbursed a broader range of telehealth visits since early 2020. This would completely alter the well-being of practices and their patients. As of now, Medicare telehealth flexibilities are planned to come to a stop 151 days after the PHE expires, which, with the new extension, will land on June 23rd, 2023.
Many are making strides to keep telehealth alive, even after the PHE comes to an end. These services help streamline the process while increasing healthcare value and affordability. The loss of telehealth would be a crippling hit for post-acute long-term care. But with the extension of the Public Health Emergency, telehealth lives to fight another day.
For more information on telehealth, click here.
Medicaid To Make Redeterminations
As the virus spread and cases increased, so did the unemployment rate. This resulted in a swelling of Medicaid enrollment, with the number of enrollees rising by a staggering amount of 17.7 million (or 25 percent) since February 2020. With a surplus this massive, a significant redetermination process is inevitable once the public health emergency ends. When this occurs, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) predicts that up to 15 million patients could lose coverage, half of whom would be children.
The process of redetermination is complicated under normal circumstances, but when placed within the sheer scope of the pandemic, it’s seemingly impossible. States already struggling with workforce pressure and crisis will have difficulty processing millions of individuals at a concurrent rate. Not to mention that it’s been close to three years since the Public Health Emergency began, meaning that most individuals have probably changed their location of residence, making the task of finding them all the more challenging.
These redeterminations would be an unprecedented event for practices nationwide, resulting in the processing of millions of patients. Payers operating Medicaid plans are bound to be affected, with those that have a higher number of enrollments being hit the hardest.
Public Health Emergency Extension Wrapped-Up
Even though we were lucky enough to have the PHE extended into next year, PALTC professionals everywhere still need to start preparing for the emergency’s inevitable end. With this endgame in sight, drastic changes are right around the corner. Changes such as the status of telehealth services and their role in healthcare now that the need for quarantining has subsided. The end of the emergency will also have long-lasting effects on Medicaid coverage, as millions of individuals will be left without coverage once the PHE ends, leading to a massive redetermination process that is bound to disrupt practice operations. Finally, the end of the PHE will lead directly to the commercialization of Covid-19 vaccines, placing many at a disadvantage in acquiring the vaccine, not to mention the rise in premiums.
But even as these changes are quickly approaching, Saisystems Health is dedicated to providing you with the necessary knowledge and proper tools to run a successful PALTC practice. Continue checking out our blog page for future updates on all things PALTC support.