Guidance for the Expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE)

Staff Vaccination Requirements

On November 5, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule (CMS-3415-IFC) requiring Medicare and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers to ensure that their staff were fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (i.e., obtain the primary vaccination series), which was a critical step to protect patients. On April 10, 2023, the President signed legislation that ended the COVID-19 national emergency. On May 11, 2023, the COVID-19 public health emergency is expected to expire. In light of these developments and comments received on the interim final rule, CMS will soon end the requirement that covered providers and suppliers establish policies and procedures for staff vaccination. CMS will share more details regarding ending this requirement at the anticipated end of the public health emergency. We continue to remind everyone that the strongest protection from COVID-19 is the vaccine. Therefore, CMS urges everyone to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine.

Emergency Preparedness: Training and Testing Program Exemption

The following information supersedes the previously issued QSO-20-41-ALL-REVISED memo for all certified providers/suppliers. CMS regulations for Emergency Preparedness (EP) require the provider/supplier to conduct exercises to test their EP plan to ensure that it works and that staff are trained appropriately about their roles and the provider/supplier’s processes. During or after an actual emergency, the EP regulations allow for a one-year exemption from the requirement that the provider/supplier perform testing exercises. The exemption only applies to the next required full-scale exercise (not the exercise of choice), based on the 12-month exercise cycle. The cycle is determined by the provider/supplier (e.g., calendar, fiscal or another 12- month timeframe). The exemption only applies when a provider/supplier activates its emergency preparedness program for an emergency event.

See pages 10-12 of the attached document for updates on other home health and hospice-specific waivers.

Also see NAHC's "Ending of the COVID-19 PHE Waivers and Flexibilities" grid.