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On January 30, 2023, the Biden Administration announced that the Covid-19 public health emergency will end on May 11, 2023. The public health emergency has been in effect since the start of the pandemic and allowed for provisions to ease the burden on health care providers and patients during the outbreak. With the public health emergency set to end, some health care waivers and flexibilities will no longer be available for hospitals and providers, while others may be extended.
After the public health emergency ends, the Department of Health and Human Services will resume enforcement of penalties against providers using telehealth technologies such as Zoom or FaceTime that are not HIPAA compliant. Providers should refer to HHS’s recently issued guidance on how telehealth visits can be conducted in compliance with HIPAA in advance of the May 11, 2023 public health emergency expiration.
During the public health emergency, all 50 states and the District of Columbia provided certain waivers to state licensure requirements to expand telehealth access. Under these waivers, providers with an equivalent license in one state could practice remotely via telehealth in any other state. Each state will individually determine whether to keep these licensing waivers or let them expire with the public health emergency in May. As such, telehealth providers and digital health companies should ensure their licenses are valid in all states in which they conduct remote patient visits.
As telehealth became such a ubiquitous part of healthcare during the public health emergency, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 will ensure that several telehealth flexibilities will survive the expiration of the public health emergency. Telehealth flexibilities will remain in effect through at least December 31, 2024 and will continue to allow 1) providers to bill for telehealth services regardless of where the patient or provider is located, 2) reimbursement of audio-only telehealth visits , and 3) delivery of expanded telehealth services including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologist, and audiologists.